Tag Archives: restaurant

Eating Paleo/Whole30 when eating out

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Eating Paleo/Whole30 when eating out can be a challenge. My husband is getting ready to try the Whole30 thang, and needing some Paleo-friendly lunch options, so this post is especially for him. And as such, it focuses mostly on his tastes. So there may be a lot of other options out there, but this list caters to someone who’s not crazy about chicken or salads. And its scope is also limited to restaurants on the west side of Wichita, KS. But there are a few national chains here, as well as guidelines for any Mexican restaurant, or any burger, so there should be help here, no matter your locale.

(Please note: this list may not be 100% Whole30 compliant; I was not able to track down which oil most things are fried in, for example. But it seeks to avoid grains, dairy, sugar, and legumes.)

Applebee’s

Beef: The Ribeye and NY Strip are the only two steaks that aren’t cooked in soybean oil.

Seafood: Garlic Herb Salmon

Sides: steamed vegetables; or sweet potato fries??

Burger places, or any place that serves ’em

Bunless burger topped with grilled onions and mushrooms. Or grilled onions and jalapenos. Served on spinach? Or get a side of broccoli, cauliflower, or sweet potato, if available.

Chili’s

Beef: Cajun Ribeye, Guiltless Carne Asada Steak, Flame Grilled Ribeye, or the Classic Sirloin – ask for no savory steak butter as this contains gluten. If you want a burger, the Bacon Burger or the Old time Burger (ask for no bun or onion strings) are good choices. I also like the burger that comes with guacamole and peppers; it’s quite tasty even without the bun!

Seafood: Guiltless Grilled Salmon or the Salmon with Garlic & Herbs

Fajitas; skip the tortilla, sour cream and cheese.

Chipotle

Order two sides of steak or carnitas with guacamole, and any salsa you want, except for the one with corn and beans. Depending on how much food you want, you can order extra sides at $2.25 a pop.

Note: Occasionally you’ll get a new employee who might put the sides in a sides container. If they do this, ask them if they can put it in a bowl. If they do that, they’ll often realize it’s not actually that much meat and give you more for free.

Jason’s Deli

Pollo Mexicano, without cheese and sour cream, – add guacamole; try to eat less of the white part of the potato

Mighty Wild Salmon Salad, without beans, with Italian dressing (NOT Leo’s fat-free Italian)

McAlister’s Deli

Your best bet: the grilled chicken salad, hold the croutons (and the cheese, if you’re avoiding dairy). Here’s the nutrition info for the entree-sized grilled chicken salad, as well as the only salad dressings with less than 20 grams of carbs and less than 1000 mg of sodium.

nutrition info for mcalister's deli: salad

 

Mexican places (go local, not chain)

Ask for no chips when you’re seated. (If you order carryout, specify no chips.)

Fajitas; skip the tortilla, sour cream and cheese.

Order a tostada topped with meat of your choice, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, tomato, and/or onions. Eat everything but the tortilla.

Panera

The Greek dressing is the only sugar-free dressing, but you can request it on any salad.

(I need to do more research into the broth bowls. They’ve changed the menu since my original post.)

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General guidelines

Always ask for NO SEASONING SALT in restaurants. MSG is often added to this, as is sugar.

When you see the following adjectives on the menu, ask lots of questions and be prepared to take a pass on foods that don’t meet your standards:

  • Deep fried
  • Crispy
  • Battered
  • Coated
  • Breaded
  • Sauced
  • Meatballs/Meatloaf/Croquettes (probably include breadcrumbs)
  • Sausage
  • Fritter
  • Dumpling

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Sources:
http://thepaleomama.com/2013/01/the-paleo-mamas-guide-to-dining-out-paleo-style/
http://fentresscrossfit.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/FAST-FOOD-OPTIONS.pdf
http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/2015/02/26/paleo-tips-eating-restaurants/
https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/salads.html

Braised pork tostadas – A. MAZ. ING!

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Just had to break my self-imposed blogging sabbatical to post about this amazing dish we had recently on vacation in the San Diego area. We just needed a 3 pm snack to tide us over to dinner, and stopped at Iris Food & Spirits in Del Mar. On the recommendation of a local, we ordered the braised pork tostadas. It may not be the most photogenic thing…

…but MORE than made up for it in deliciousness! 
Those mini-tostadas are no chips out of a plastic bag: these babies were clearly just-fried, perfectly crisp with just-enough oil. The toppings are simple but perfect: tender, slightly smokey kalua pork, topped with sweet, sweet carmelized onion (with just a hint of wine, maybe), fresh cilantro, and — according to the menu — “buttermilk sauce.” Which I’m guessing had some adobo sauce. 
Lovely contrast in textures and flavors: crisp/shattering of the tostada; candy-sweet onions playing a perfect counternote to the smoky, meatiness of the pork; just a hint of heat in the flavorfull sauce.
This was one of those meals where discussion came to a sudden halt after the first bite. “Wow,” was about all we could manage to mutter. And after the food was gone, we immediately began plotting how to replicate this delicious dish at home.

How to eat healthi(er) at Jose Pepper’s

jose-peppers-fish-taco

(Oh, and a restaurant review.)

Yes, it is possible to go to a Mexican restaurant and not blow your healthy eating, balanced-carbs plan. Here’s my strategy:

1. Count how many chips you eat. Notice I’m not telling you how many to eat. In the past, I’ve always either decided ahead of time to eat no chips whatsoever (my rare approach), or decided ahead of time to not eat “too many,” but then go ahead and do it anyway (my more common approach). Today, I decided I would just count chips as I ate them. I hadn’t made up my mind what number I was going to stop at, but the mere mindfulness of counting slowed me down considerably. You might try this and see if it helps. YMMV.

2. Skip the white flour and white rice. I love their fish taco, but it’s so packed with flavor, you really don’t need the tortilla. (And picking it up to eat it is REALLY messy!) So I just remove the little taco prop that it comes served in, lay the tortilla out flat, and eat the content off it as if the tortilla were the dish. Neater, cleaner, saved some white carbs and some fat, with no sacrifice in flavor or enjoyment!

3. Get veggies instead of rice and beans. I love this about Jose Pepper’s: that you can even get vegetables as a side is great, but these actually taste good! A mix of broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash and (tiny shreds of) carrots, they’re generously seasoned and cooked just to crisp-tender.

4. And — do I really need to say this? Skip the little ball of cornmeal and honey! That’s nothing but a sugar bomb, and if you never taste it to begin with, you can do a head-fake on yourself and just imagine that it tastes really awful!

As to a review of the restaurant itself… The one we frequent is on 13th Street near the Warren Theater in east Wichita. We go there almost every Sunday for lunch, and although they’re always busy, we rarely have to wait long for a table. The staff is always friendly and on top of things. They also have a gluten-free information sheet available on request.

Jose Pepper’s website.

Jose Peppers on Urbanspoon

Where to eat in Wichita: Fizz Burgers

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Fizz Burgers sweet potato fries!

I have to confess, when Fizz opened in my neighborhood and I saw the signs, I was so appalled at the logo that I had no interest in trying the place out! I mean, tell me that this doesn’t look like it actually says “Pizz”!

Fizz Burgers (and the infamous logo)
Plus, that pistachio green color — one of my favorites, but not one I want to associate with burgers!
Luckily, though, my hairdresser Annie (who works a few doors down) told me that they had really good burgers. So my husband and I tried it out, and it was instantly our new favorite casual spot. (The hubs still insists on calling it Pizz, though. Ha. Ha.)
They do have great burgers, but they also have a great chicken sandwich (try it with avocado, bacon, and garlic aioli) and good salads. I love the chicken tortilla salad; in fact, it’s the inspiration for my own make-ahead Tex-Mex salad. (Sorry, no pic yet. Another one of those days when I was so hungry, I was halfway through the salad before I realized it!) In addition to the greens and chicken (alternately, you can order it with pulled pork), there’s avocado, cheddar cheese, black beans, tortilla strips, red onion, and a very tasty dressing.
But what Fizz is probably best loved for is their fries. They have some great traditional skin-on fries (my favorite kind!), shown here in a pic from their website with what looks like a mushroom and Swizz burger.
But what really puts them on the map is their sweet potato fries! (Did you know that sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes? Crazy, huh?! Plus, they have a ton of Vitamin A.) I’ve tried s.p. fries at number of restaurants, and I definitely like these the best. They don’t have that weird tang that you often get, plus they’re not crusted with unnecessary sugar and/or cinnamon. You can also ask to have your order half-and-half: half regular fries and half sweet potato fries.
They have six different dipping sauces you can order with either kind of fries: Garlic Aioli · Roasted Garlic · Smoked Pepper Mayo · Ranch · Pecan · Ketchup · Spicy Ketchup. And they’ll gladly bring you a bit of however many you want. But with the sweet potato fries, you gotta try the pecan sauce! It’s a little sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.
Oh, and they also offer dozens of different unique soda pops in bottles. Wine and beer, too. Dessert is available: cute little cake pops. I’ve never tried one, but I gave my sister one and she said it was “the best!”
Locally owned. Open for lunch and dinner Mon. – Sat. Closed Sunday. 🙁

Fizz Burgers and Bottles on Urbanspoon

Places to eat in Kansas City: Mestizo restaurant review

mestizo-fish-tacos
Mestizo restaurant review

We’ve made two visits to Mestizo in the last month. That alone should say something. The first visit was actually mixed, but there was enough good to bring us back. And I’m glad, because the second visit was more positive.

This relatively new addition to the KC restaurant scene is located in Leawood at Park Place (a collection of shops, restaurants and condos at 117th and Nall, just north of the AMC Town Center). You’d have to go looking for it. Unless you just happen to be strolling around this chi-chi mecca of high-end consumerism, you wouldn’t happen across it. And if you go in for appetizers, drinks, and a large meal, it’s going to be pretty pricey. But we just went for a light late lunch both times, and so we got out for under $15 per person.

Let’s start with the salsa. Our first visit there, we were quite underwhelmed by it. It was okay, but didn’t taste garden-fresh, which is what you’d expect from the expectations set by the menu. It tasted like the bulk of the sauce came from canned tomatoes. But that was April, and maybe they were short on good local tomatoes so they resorted to canned. This time, however — midway through May — the salsa lived up to our original expectations. It had both a sweetness and a pleasant kick (mind you, this comment from me, the spice-wimp), and the sweetness tasted like it came from homegrown t’maters, not from Heinz, or added sugar. A salsa-dipped chip did benefit from a little extra salt added at the table, as the chips are served pretty much saltless. (But I’d much rather have a dish lack salt than be overly salty.)

Other than lacking salt, the chips are great. They somehow manage to be both thick and light — perfectly crispy.

On our first visit, we ordered guacamole, but none of us (and there were four that time) were impressed. We didn’t even finish it, even though it was fairly small. It had a strange note in it; almost tasted mustardy to me. ($9. Sheesh!)

On my first visit, I ordered the “chipotle chicken” — a simple salad topped with glazed, grilled chicken breast and a tamarind vinaigrette. The chicken was a little over cooked but still enjoyable, and the salad dressing was unique, with a bright, citrusy flavor. ($10.)

On our first visit, the two guys ordered two different kinds of tacos: one ordered grilled mahi-mahi, and the other, crispy pork belly. On our second visit, my husband, having tasted both the first time, ordered a mixed serving of both. (Two tacos, $9.)

The fish tacos, served with avocado slices and mango salsa on top:

Pork belly may sound weird, but these were bite-sized chunks of tender pork with a pleasantly crispy exterior. They weren’t strongly smoked, but there was a hint of bacon-y flavor to them.

My husband’s assessment of the two: He likes them both, but prefers the pork belly. (“I like El Patron’s fish tacos better by a long shot,” he says.)

Both kinds of tacos were served with a side of “drunken beans.” No one liked the beans. My sister’s fiance thought there was an “off” taste to them; I thought they just tasted bland.

The star dish, in my opinion, was the pepita-crusted scallops. My sister ordered it on our first visit, and I ordered on our second. (Her serving had three scallops, mine, only two. Perhaps measured by weight?) The scallops were perfectly done, sweet and tender, and served atop a creamy corn picadillo. Dictionary.com says that picadillo is “a traditional Latin American and Spanish dish of ground meat, onions, tomatoes, raisins, olives, and spices,” but this one had grilled corn, small pear tomatoes and bits of jalapeno in a creamy, sauce that tasted of ancho chile to me. The slightly spicy, slightly smoky sauce was a great counterpoint to the sweet scallops, was contrasted nicely with the salty, crispy crust of finely chopped pepitas on top. Nothing to criticize! ($12.)

Our one main complaint about Mestizo: the atmosphere is just a little too slick, a little too chic. (It should be noted that both of our visits were mid-afternoon. Perhaps the decor feels more right after dark.) My husband also was a bit put off by the sterile, styled-ness of the plating.

In a “Welcome” note at the top of the menu, owner Aaron Sanchez says that the menu was inspired, in part, by family meals “freshly prepared by my mother, Zarela.” And that kind of love for the flavors and the food came through in the dishes we tried, but I wish it would have also come through in the decor. The restaurant shouts STYLE, and feels like a corporate concept, not a homespun gathering place.

Mestizo website.

Mestizo on Urbanspoon

Places to eat in Kansas City: Eggtc.

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Found another great breakfast place in KC! It’s been there for several years, but we only discovered it recently.

Just a few blocks south of the Plaza on Main Street, Eggtc. is next door to Minsky’s Pizza (same owners). On weekend mornings, expect a wait. And expect good food!

As is so often the case, I ordered an Eggs Benedict (on whole wheat toast, to make it a smidge healthier).

Tender, juicy, flavorful ham; not too thick, not too thin. The egg perfectly done. Nice job!

They offer nine different kinds of omelettes, plus a “build your own” option. With eight kinds of meat, seven kinds of cheeses, 16 different vegetable choices, and a partridge in a pear tree… (sorry!) …you ought to be able to find or create something that suits your fancy. My friend ordered an omelette off the menu: Apple and Goat Cheese omelette, with walnuts and onion chutney. Not my cup of tea, but she enjoyed every bite.

I didn’t snap a pic of her husband’s plate, but he ordered the “Salubrious” omelette — isn’t that a great name? It’s not often a menu item has you pulling out your smart phone to look something up on dictonary.com! (Salubrious means “conducive or favourable to health; wholesome”.) It contains Monterey Jack and Swiss cheeses, asparagus, black olives, mushrooms and red onions, topped off with red onion chutney.

They also serve frittatas, crepes, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizza, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, waffles, french toast… you’d be hard-pressed to find a breakfast favorite that’s not offered here.

There were eight of us at the table; I don’t remember what everyone ordered, but I do know there were no empty plates at the end! It’s a wee bit loud, but the service was prompt and friendly.

Definitely recommended!

Eggtc. website

Eggtc. on Urbanspoon

The best low carb salads at Panera

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I love Panera! Even though I rarely get bagels or sweets there any more, I love their salads and appreciate the fact that they provide some nutrition info right up front. The calories are listed right on the menu. Pretty bold!

However, I don’t believe that counting calories is all that useful. (Here’s why, at least partially.) So I went to Panera’s website and downloaded the nutrition info and did a little spreadsheet work. If you’re focusing on controlling diabetes and/or eating low carb (South Beach, etc.), a useful thing to consider is the protein to carb ratio. That is, are there more protein than carbs, and in what proportion?

Based on my personal study into food’s effect on insulin and blood sugar, my approach to healthy eating is to try to keep an approximate balance between carbs and protein. More protein than carbs is okay; more carbs than protein is not. So in my protein-to-carbs (P-to-C) approach, I’m looking for a ration that 1 or higher.

Here’s an example: If your “protein bar” has 10 grams of protein, but 30 grams of carbs, it has a  P-to-C  ratio of 0.33 — not good! However, a spoonful of sugar-free peanut butter has 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbs; a ratio of 1.25 — much better!

I looked at all of Panera’s whole salads, including the dressing. Here are their four lowest-carb salads, with their respective ratios.

ALL of the other salads on their menu are below 1.0.

Of course, there’s more to healthy eating than carbs and protein, but as I said, if you’re looking to control your blood sugar (glucose) or trying to lose weight by watching carbs, these are some important numbers to know.

I am not employed by or affiliated with Panera Bread, and this is not a sponsored post. I am not a medical or nutrition expert; just someone who cares about my health enough to dig for the facts.

Places to eat in Wichita: Tanya’s Soup Kitchen

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Tanya's Soup Kitchen - chicken salad

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen is more than soup: there’s sandwiches and salads, too. Everything (except the bread) is made fresh on site, and the dishes all strike a nice balance between the creative and the comfortably familiar. Nothing is run-of-the-mill, but nothing is frou-frou, either. It’s nice for our gluten-sensitive friends that they offer gluten-free bread options, and the staff seems to understand the accommodations that need to be made for such folks.

The interior is sunny and open, with a casual cafe vibe. You stand in line to order, and your food is brought to the table.

Today I enjoyed the “Ella,” shown at the top of this post. (That’s a small. You can also order large.) It’s a chicken salad with cashews, dried cherries, and fresh herbs on mixed greens, with your choice of dressing. The dressing on the chicken is very light; no gloppy mayo here. I went with the herb vinaigrette; it was nice and light, with a perfect balance between sweet and tart. The herbs complemented the blend, but no herb was so prominent that it overwhelmed the flavor.

I also got a “small” soup…

…which would be a “bowl” in any other restaurant! Today, I opted for their creamy tomato dill soup. It’s so popular, they offer it every day, year-round. And I can see why. It’s delish! It’s also quite sweet. I’m sure there must be some sugar in there, so for health’s sake, I didn’t eat the whole thing. But I would have liked to!

Their salads are reasonably priced — ranging from $3.50 to $7.00 for a small, $4.50 to $9.00 for a large — but personally, I think their sandwiches are a little overpriced; $9 for whole; $7.75 for half.

Overall, a quite enjoyable lunch!

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen website

Tanya's Soup Kitchen on Urbanspoon