Tex-Mex & Keto

A delicate balancing act

For the second weekend in a row, I fell out of ketosis. This time, I was done in by the homemade tortilla chips – not just any restaurant tortilla chips, but chips at what my friend swears is the best Tex-Mex this side of New Mexico.

We had traveled to Charlotte for a shopping trip. After a latish start, we got there about 11:30 – time for an early lunch. My friend had been telling me about this wonderful Mexican chain in Orlando (of all places) that she swore had the closest thing to Tex-Mex that she’d found on the East Coast, ever since she left Albuquerque. I said, look it up, see if there’s one in Charlotte. And yes, there is a Chuy’s in Charlotte.

A Tex-Mex take on the 21 Club

We drove to the one Charlotte location on the south side of the city. The place had a kitschy vibe with the Chihuahua bar decorated with pictures of Chihuahua dogs, the checkerboard floors, and colorful furnishing. The ceilings drew inspiration from New York’s fabled 21 Club. Instead of toys hanging down, the ceiling of the room where we dined was decorated with shiny hubcaps of all shapes and sizes. There was some serious money in rims above our heads.

Salsas Devine

For about two minutes I thought hard about staying on my Keto program. I could order a taco salad and eat around the shell. I could order fajitas and skip the tortillas. But then they brought out those homemade tortilla chips with salsa and creamy jalapeno dip. The lightly fried, non-greasy chips crumbled in the mouth, melting as fast as my resistance to the carbs. My friend couldn’t stop exclaiming over the food. She eagerly ordered the Hatch Chili salsa to go with her lunch. My tastes run more to my WASP background. I gotta be me: I’m more at home with bland, creamy comfort food, not hot & spicy. I chose from the mild side of the menu. The enchiladas with tomatillo salsa were perfect. I did try to restrain myself: I didn’t eat most of the tortillas wrapping the chicken inside. And I left most of the rice and beans (something I’ve never done before in a Mexican restaurant.) Not because they weren’t delicious; I was reining myself in. And because I was stuffed full of chips.


Victory over All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

A Keto Win

Every month my team goes out to eat at a different restaurant. This week, it was the locally famous all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant Little Pigs. It’s a patriotic country place that features the flags of each branch of the Armed Services on the walls, along with the “Thin Blue Line” flag and a flag for MIA-POWs. And they serve the three styles of barbecued pork sauce predominant in South Carolina: tomato-based, mustard-based, and vinegar-pepper.

Buffet means minefield

Unfortunately, meat isn’t all they serve. There’s also the tantalizing display of casserole-type foods and starches that are mainstays of the Southern diet. Here’s what I had to pass by in order to stay on my Keto way of eating:

  • Fried chicken
  • Wings
  • Rice
  • Hash
  • Tomato pie
  • Hush puppies
  • Macaroni and cheese (this is considered a vegetable in South Carolina)
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Candied Yams
  • Corn
  • Candied Yams
  • Cut Corn
  • And for dessert:
  • Banana pudding
  • Chocolate pudding

What did you eat?

Believe it or not, I was able to dine quite nicely at the BBQ restaurant, and not feel too deprived. (Although I did sigh several times over the tomato pie I couldn’t have.) I filled my plate with broccoli salad made with cheddar cheese and mayo, green beans, and three types of pork: mustard-based BBQ, vinegar and pepper-based BBQ, and plain pulled pork. It was divine. And best of all – my teammates who ate all the carbs were falling asleep later that afternoon at work. Me? I had no problem powering through the day.