Some Jerky’s I have come to love…
Convenience foods and snack foods are some of the bigger challenges when adopting a keto lifestyle. I am always on the lookout for shortcut foods that have the right ratios of macros for when I am on the go.
For a while I was excited about bacon jerky but in reality it’s kinda like eating a cold piece of last Sundays fatty bacon. I like bacon and all but it should be eaten crisp and at least warm.
Recently, I stumbled upon a “Slim Jim” type meat stick jerky that had a label to impress even the most picky of clean eaters and it tasted great too. The price was right at Ocean State Job Lot – $1 a stick so I went back and stocked up only to run out again a month later.
Doing some research online I found the source and just received my 1st order from the 40 year old, well-run, Tillamook Country Smoker out of Oregon. With the free shipping offer it was a great deal. After extensive digging there are only a few products in their line that I recommend as keto friendly – The Simply Crafted – Meat Sticks. I choose the Hunters Sausage and the Uncured Pepperoni both claiming – No Nitrates, Gluten Free, No Added MSG, Minimally Processed, No artificial ingredients, Zero Trans Fats, No preservatives added. Most of their other products contain more questionable ingredients and too many carbs as most jerky is cured with sugar.
Now please be clear – I am not suggesting that you can sustain a healthy life or even lose weight eating beef jerky all the time but as a once-in-awhile snack… These puppies are on point with only 1 – 2 carbs per stick and near perfect macro ratios that will keep you in ketosis. Eating “real food” is always the best choice but some times you need a quick on the go option that will support your low carb busy life!
Who said eating low-carb can’t be fun? BBQ Pulled Pork anyone!
One of the biggest challenges for me, keeping low-carb in the summer, is BBQ sauce. I love ribs, BBQ pulled pork and anything else you can slather that yummy, spicy, sticky sauce on. I have made my own low carb version and may perfect that recipe in the future and share it with you but for now, as my 12 year old daughter says, “Ain’t-nobody-got-time-for-that!”
There are plenty of bottled BBQ sauces on the market but most have way too many carbs to even be considered low-carb some over 20 grams per serving so read those labels carefully. I have recently found an exceptional brand – JB’s Best, that is infused with beer and has the lowest carbs of all bottled BBQ sauces – around *4-6 grams. I use several spicy and not so spicy varieties in the BBQ pulled pork recipe below.
This is not a complicated meal to prepare and it feeds around 10-12 people affordably and heavenly.
The secret is in the spices! I use the southern-style, Penzeys – 33rd and Galena, Chicken and Pork Rub which is mixture of black pepper, paprika, nutmeg, sage, cayenne, red pepper and basil.
Be sure to have all the ingredients on hand to make our coleslaw recipe to go with. This meal would not be the same without it. My wife Lisa claims she wants this to be her “last meal on earth” – no kidding.. she said that – It’s that good!
Now many hard-core BBQ enthusiasts would argue that using a crock pot is not serious BBQ but hey… don’t knock it till you try it! This is one of those quick prep time, set-it-and-forget-it deals so you can go about your day and have an amazing dinner ready 8 hrs later for a small crowd. Either that or you will just have to enjoy the left-overs for days.. and you will as it is just as good the second day. Can I get a Yeeehaa!?
- 5-6 lbs Pork Butt - fat trimmed
- 3 tbsp Pensey's - 33rd and Galena, Chicken and Pork Rub
- Salt and Pepper - fresh ground
- 1.5 tbsp Olive oil
- 3/4 cup JB's Best, Ghost Pepper BBQ Sauce - to cook in
- 3/4 cup JB's Best, Ancho Peach BBQ Sauce - to cook in (alternate - Stubbs Original)
- Extra JB's Best, Blazin Bacon BBQ Sauce - to serve over cooked pork
- 1 cup of water
- Trim fat from pork butt.
- Cut into 4 inch cubes.
- Salt and pepper all sides.
- Dust with Pensey's spice rub on all sides.
- In batches, brown each side of pork in a large dutch oven or similar pot.
- Transfer browned pork to crock pot.
- Add BBQ sauces.
- Add Water.
- Cover and set crock pot on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours depending on what you have to do that day.
- Once done, use several paper towel strips to remove oil that has collected at the top of the pot.
- With 2 forks pull the pork apart and mix in with the juices in the crock pot.
- Serve topped with JB's Best, Blazin Bacon BBQ Sauce
- If you prefer less heat top with JB's Best, Ancho Peach or one of their other less hot varieties.
- Warning - Go easy on the BBQ sauce on top - 2 tbsp have 4-6 grams of carbs. Hopefully you planned ahead and saved your daily carb intake for this meal!
- 1/2 medium cabbage - sliced thin
- 1 large red bell pepper - sliced thin
- 1/2 bulb fresh fennel - sliced thin
- 1 medium onion - sliced thin
- 2 green onions - chopped
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 1 large lemon - juiced
- 1 1/4 tbsp of fresh ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- In a large bowl add all the veggies sliced very thin - use a mandoline slicer if needed.
- In a smaller bowl wisk together the mayo, lemon juice, and pepper.
- Toss the veggies with the dressing.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
On a side note – Jonathan and crew have hit it out of the park with their Vino De Milo, line of wine-infused salad dressings that have only 1-2 grams of carbs per serving. I have yet to try these but look forward to it as they do look amazing.
As an alternate brand I have found Stubb’s, Original Recipe to have only 5 net grams of carbs per serving and they make some great BBQ sauces as well.
As a suggestion you may want to wait until you have hit a weight loss goal before trying this recipe. It’s hard to eat just 1 serving and the chances that you are gonna get kicked out of ketosis are pretty high. Hopefully you have a short cut in place to get you back on track come Monday morning!
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.
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.
Some of the best low carb salad dressings come from a bottle.
More often than not we make our own simple vinaigrette to go on our various salads but there are nights, when short on time, a decent bottled dressing does the trick. If you are looking for the best low carb salad dressings and the perfect avocado you do not have to go far. Most on the market are loaded with sugars and other questionable ingredients but then there are some really good ones if you know what to look for.
Newman’s Own offers several low carb, 2-3 grams per serving, options that are great in a pinch. They even have a low carb Caesar dressing but if I am going to make a Caesar Salad, I’m going to make it from scratch.
One of my favorite quick lunches I learned from my mother. Believe it or not between the Rice Krispies and Pop Tarts there are a few healthy food habits that your / my parents passed down, whether they knew it or not at the time.
Take a perfectly ripe avocado, remove the pit and fill the cavity with a good italian-ish dressing – dig in with a spoon getting some dressing with each bite. So simple and yet this is how I learned to eat an avocado. Who knew all these years later that avocado would play such an important role in my weight loss as it represents the perfect keto-friendly food. Thanks Mom! I still have not adopted her avocado-pit-on-the-window-sill-tree thing but hey, there’s still time!
If somehow you are new to avocados, here is the secret to a perfect ripe one. When you get one home, if its it is still hard and green, leave it on the counter for a day or two until it darkens a bit and feels a little soft but still firm when pressed on. Then put it in the fridge which will slow down the ripening process keeping it perfect until you are ready to eat it. Another way is checking under the stem. This part of the avocado holds a sneak peak for what’s going on under the skin.
Another favorite low carb option, if you can find it, is from Cindy’s Kitchen. These are some of the cleanest bottled dressings on the market and will be found refrigerated among the veggie isles as they are the freshest on this list. Many of these have zero carbs so enjoy them often.
You can’t go wrong with these easy week night shortcut dressings. Then again there is always the simplest solution – A really good EV olive oil and a squeeze of lemon on some arugula, salt and pepper, avocado, toasted pine nuts, shave some fresh fennel and parmesan and in minutes your perfect keto side salad is table ready.
This post is inspired by my neighbor Greg who insists I must have a secret knock or a, special, assigned to me, cheese-monger-type-lady friend at the supermarket that gives me exclusive access to all “the good cheese”. I assure him that this is not the case – she is not assigned to me exclusively and its more of a nod than a knock! We often find ourselves around our kitchen island at happy hour or even after a late night ping-pong session sampling all my recent good cheese finds that are well-matched to various jams and other accoutrements.
I assure you that even though cheese is keto-friendly, I often partake in the less keto, crackers, honey and jam, but within reason, and only once a week. Some things just go too well together – Is it wine:30 yet?
This time of year the markets load up on specialty cheeses more so than any other time of year anticipating our demand and willingness to splurge on entertainment for the holidays. The best cheese is often from Europe as well as some artisan local selections and all tend to be pricey. If you keep an eye out, some of these more expensive cheeses are marked down 50% as they near their sell-by date. That works for me as long as a happy hour plan is only a day or so away – ripe and ready to eat at 1/2 price – sign me up!
In order of best selection locally, Big Y hands down has got their act together in the cheese dept. Stop n Shop is next with ShopRight always tailing way behind. The Fresh Market also has a great selection of good cheese but at 20-30% more expensive overall than the others.
One of the cheese isles at Big Y in Avon, CT.
If you are a silver card member or are sitting on some silver coins from Big Y be sure to pick up some Prosciutto Di Parma to go with your cheese. It is almost always on sale for $14.99/lb. and if your catch it right – $9.99/lb.
Below are some great ones: Humboldt Fog – Goat, Fromager d’Affinois – Brie, Jarlsberg – Swiss, local aged Cheddar, Gorgonzola from Italy.
Mostly, cheese is about personal preference but be sure to explore and try something different, smelly or expensive this holiday season. I know I will. Cheers!
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.
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.
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.