Goodbye, restaurant anxieties. Hello, make-my-own keto menu.
2 years into my Keto Journey, it’s about maintaining my lost weight, and getting more fit. I’m even starting to look into the gym, and muscle gain workout programs. We will see how that goes... thoughts and prayers, please.
In reflecting on the last 6 months of my keto journey, I recognize that I have had my ups and downs. I avoid gluten because I like being in ketosis (and I do find that I experience some bloat when I eat it). This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy a warm croissant recently while on vacation in London. We all have our vices, and warm croissants (and flaky biscuits) are mine. I’m southern, y’all - biscuits call out to me! But when these rare run-ins with warm croissants occur, I enjoy every buttery morsel and bite, then get back onto the keto train! I’m just thankful I don’t live in Europe where the smell of fresh-baked croissants seems to waft from every open window. Btw, if anyone has a keto croissant recipe, bring it on! I miss them dearly.
As a follow up to the initial Ketolicious Journey blog, I thought I’d highlight where I experience some of my biggest challenges: restaurants. A friend once said, “How do you know someone is on Keto? They will tell you.” I personally do not ever want to be the one at a restaurant who causes a commotion or draws attention to my keto journey (unless asked, of course). Below are some helpful hints that assist me as I navigate menus:
Cobb Salad- With a nice bit of protein balanced with fat from fresh avocado, egg, bacon, and blue cheese - not to mention fiber from lettuce - this salad is always a win! If you are worried about your daily macros, and consuming too much protein- then leave the grilled chicken breast off.
Fried Brussels Sprouts- I’ve said it before: if it is green, I eat it, even on Keto. And nowadays these delicious, crispy morsels can be found on many menus, normally sprinkled with bacon, pork belly or Parmesan cheese. Woo wee! If they come tossed in a balsamic glaze, I ask for it to come on the side so I can check and see if it has a lot of sugar. Typically, they are good without the glaze.
Sandwiches/Burgers- I find I can order any sandwich or burger on a menu. I just ask for no bun or a lettuce wrap. I am finding more and more restaurants will give you a lettuce wrap and will respect this request. Boom!
Aioli- Aioli is my “ambrosia aka food of the gods” condiment. When ordering a sandwich, I watch the condiments like ketchup and bbq sauce which can often times have high fructose corn syrup or added sugar, so I ask for aioli. I normally scan the menu to see if they have aioli (I find it comes with fries or even brussels sprouts), and whether it comes with my meal or not, I request it. I find it is a perfect addition to make any burger/sandwich extra tasty, and gives a little bit of extra fat to my diet!
Cucumber Slices- My friends love Mexican Food. I mean LOVE it! And I love guacamole and cheese dip, but there is always the dilemma (dun dun dun!) of the corn chip. To work around our corny friends, I typically request cucumber slices, which I can then dip in queso and guacamole. Fresh broccoli and cauliflower florets are great options too if a restaurant doesn’t have cucumber slices.
Pork Belly- Y’all, many restaurants are offering pork belly, a delish and fatty (I’m not scared of that fat) appetizer or entrée. Watch for any sugary glazes - normally they can be left off - but dive in and enjoy each succulent morsel.
Wings- Football season is here, and if I want to go watch a game with my friends at a bar, wings are my fave option for getting in the football mood. Always watch what sauce comes on them, though. I normally ask for them to be “naked” (which seems a little risqué) and then I dip them in blue cheese, or I may have them tossed in parmesan garlic sauce (which typically does not have the added sugar that a BBQ sauce would). For me, keto bar food is a personal touchdown!
Deviled Eggs- They are showing up more and more on menus, and they typically are delish! A nice hit of protein with some fat, and boom, a perfect appetizer on any menu.
Obviously, there are other options, like warm olives, ribeye steak (watch your macros), and even salmon with a lemon or dill butter sauce, but this is a start for helping us navigate restaurants together.
What’s most important is finding a way to embrace what’s intended to be a fun experience! Whether we are with friends, colleagues, alone, or with a significant other, restaurants are meant to be enjoyed, and we can still stay in ketosis while having a universal restaurant experience! And right after I enjoy this universal and communal experience, I’m gonna go home and have a Swerved treat. You know that’s right!
How do you “Get Your Swerve on?” and what are some of your tricks, work arounds, or go-tos when enjoying a meal at a restaurant?