If it’s time to drop some of those holiday pounds, the Keto diet has become a popular choice.
Similar to the Atkins diet that was once the rage, Keto follows a low-carb plan. While it’s always easy to control what you eat when cooking at home, where can you stay on a Keto diet when eating out in Central Oregon?
Keto is short for ketogenic. By eating fewer than 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, the body will create ketones, which fuel the body by burning fat instead of sugars and carbohydrates. Note that the carb count of a food is lowered by the amount of fiber, to come up with a net carbs number (i.e., 20 grams of carbs minus 5 grams of fiber equals 15 net carbs).
The Keto diet is popular because the fats are filling, so that dieters often feel less hungry and have fewer cravings. We’ve heard that high fats aren’t healthy, but a lot of research shows the lower insulin levels of a low-carb diet has benefits that counteract eating more fat.
Please consult with your healthcare professional before starting a Keto diet. Once you have started the diet, here are a few places where you can enjoy a tasty meal that fits into the Keto plan.
Bend Pizza Kitchen (BPK)- NorthWest Crossing
You have to be “in the know” to get the low-carb, Keto-friendly cauliflower pizza crust option as it is not listed on the menu. Cauliflower is a popular substitute for high-carb foods. The crust option only comes in a 12-inch pizza and runs $5 more than other crust choices. Added cheese gives the flatbread-like crust a bit more flavor.
The locally sourced, organic toppings are fresh and flavorful. The meats are grass-fed and free-range. I loaded up my pizza with Italian sausage, olives, mushrooms, arugula and red onions. Note that typical tomato sauce will have added sugar, and you might want to opt for olive oil.
Chan’s Chinese Low-Carb Menu Items- Redmond and Bend
Protein and vegetables are the mainstay of not only Keto diets but of many Chinese entrees. Chan’s takes it to another level by eliminating cornstarch and sugar. The entree is then served on a bed of baby bok choy instead of rice. Entree choices include Ginger Scallion Chicken, New Version Kung Pao Chicken, New Version Cashew Chicken, Garlic Ginger Beef and Chicken, and Triple Szechuan (so you can get it good and spicy!).
I chose the Garlic Ginger Beef and Chicken. The tender well-seasoned meat served on firm steamed bok choy was delicious. I never missed the rice.
Olive Garden has a new low-carb menu items suitable for those on a Keto diet, listed under the Tastes of the Mediterranean Dinner section. I chose Zoodles Primavera with Sautéed Shrimp. The zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) were al dente. They could stand up to the basil cream sauce with a few pieces of broccoli, carrots, seasoned tomatoes, roasted red peppers and mushrooms. The carb count is mid-range at 21 net carbs, but it could easily fit into a Keto diet.
A manager confirmed that you can substitute Zoodles for pasta in many entrees.
My dining companion had the Chicken Piccata topped with a lemon garlic butter sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Parmesan-crusted zucchini slices accompanied the chicken. The piccata comes in with about 9 net carbs.
Other items like the Herb-Grilled Salmon is incredibly low in carbohydrates as it comes in at under 5 net carbs. The Chicken Margherita is only 8 net carbs.
Let’s face it; Olive Garden is a chain. The meats and ingredients aren’t fresh or local. Still, it can be a satisfying place for families, and with the low-carb choices, you don’t have to be afraid to join them if you are on a Keto diet. Plus, you can eat a whole plate and not feel as weighed down as your fellow diners who just ate a plate of pasta.
As with many restaurants, the Brown Owl did not have any items listed as Keto-friendly. Nonetheless, the server was aware of what items were best for those eating a low-carb diet. She suggested the pork belly wrap. Pork belly, pickled onions and jalapeños, pumpkin seeds and cucumber come with butter lettuce leaves for wrapping. Unfortunately, the pork has a topping mix of hoisin sauce and honey mustard that has lots of sugar. I substituted the double cream mustard used on their burger, and it was pretty tasty.
Create your own Keto meal
Basically, all you need to stay on your Keto diet when eating out is to forgo the bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and other carbs, and substitute more vegetables. It can be as easy as asking not to have a bun on a hamburger, and substitute a side salad instead of fries.
Steak houses are an excellent choice when dining out as you could have a luscious ribeye at Bos Taurus with creamed spinach. Or Fried Bacon Brussel Sprouts with a steak at Blacksmith. Or how about a filet mignon with a side of pan-seared asparagus or steamed broccoli at Brickhouse? And Zydeco promises to work with whatever dietary restrictions you have.
When dining out, you can stay on a Keto Diet without feeling deprived, as long as you turn down the bread delivered to the table.