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Who Said You Can’t Eat Low-Carb at Carrabba’s?

Sirloin Marsala with Sauteed Spinach, topped with Fresh Parmesan

Eating out low-carb is not really that difficult at all.  Today, we went to Carrabba’s Italian Grill.  At first, I thought my choices would be limited, since pasta and bread are part of most Italian dishes (at least here in the U.S. & Germany, but not so much in Italy – but that’s another story).

Before we left, I did a quick online menu check and discovered that Carrabba’s actually has a gluten-free menu.  I looked it over and actually found several dishes that I would like to try, like the Shrimp Scampi, the Sirloin Marsala, or the Chicken Bryan.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I asked the greeter if they have a gluten-free menu I could look at.  She nodded and brought me the menu.  A few moments later, the waiter took our drink-order and I asked for my usual unsweetened ice-tea with a lemon, no sweetener required (I quickly adapted to the slightly tart taste when I quit diet coke).

I looked over the menu again and decided to go for the Sirloin Marsala.  I let the waiter know that I was ordering from the gluten-free menu and to please let the chef know not to use the basting sauce for the meat.  He nodded and asked me what veggie I’d like with it.  I opted for the sauteed spinach, something I have never tried before.  He then asked me if I wanted soup or salad, and I chose the side-salad with Parmesan cream dressing.  My husband, a non-low-carber, then ordered his baked Seafood Cannelloni and an order of Shrimp Scampi as an appetizer for us to split.  The waiter kindly asked if we wanted the garlic bread that comes with the dish, so I told him that he can bring it and my husband would eat it.

A few minutes later, the fresh dipping bread appeared.  Don had a slice, then put it aside.  I, then, took my spoon and took a taste of the seasoned olive oil.  I know, it sounds strange, but I did get the flavor without the added carbs and wheat, that makes me swell up like a balloon.  Yes, I love that bread, but it was not worth the set-back and puffiness, so instead, I was looking forward to the shrimp scampi.

When the waiter brought the shrimp, we set it in the middle of the table and we ate it straight out of the dish.  The sauce was so flavorful and creamy, the few pieces of shrimp were gone way too soon.  I took one more spoon-full of the sauce and hubby mopped up the rest with his garlic bread.  It was so tasty, that I tried to taste out the ingredients and wrote them down, so I could replicate the dish at home one day.

Side Salad with Parmesan Cream Dressing

Next came the salads.  Mine was a basic lettuce with tiny bits of celery, a few olives, and a few pieces of shredded carrots, topped with a creamy Parmesan dressing.  It was wonderful and light.  I’m not a fan of olives, so I pushed them to the side of the plate, and I took it easy on the carrots, though there weren’t that many slivers on the plate to begin with.

Once we were finished with our salads, the main dishes arrived at our table.  I looked at my plate and then said to my husband: “Whoever said that you can’t eat good stuff on low-carb, doesn’t know what they’re missing.”

My dish was a nice piece of sirloin steak, cooked medium done, and was covered with a creamy mushroom sauce.  My sauteed spinach looked yummy, too, with oil still glistening on the perfectly cooked leaves.  The waiter offered some fresh, grated Parmesan for my husband’s dish, then I asked him to put some on my spinach.  It was a new taste for me, the spinach, not the cheese, and I really enjoyed it.

When I was finished, Don snuck the last bite of steak off  my plate (I done anyway).  The waiter offered us some dessert, but  we have gotten out of the habit of eating desserts at restaurants, especially since I started eating low-carb, so we declined.

We left the restaurant comfortably full.  The outing wasn’t exactly cheap, since we basically ordered 3 entrees, but it was well worth it.

Hints for the road:

  • Check online for a menu to see what foods are available.
  • Check if the restaurant posted a gluten-free or special menu for people with food allergies.
  • Decide or narrow down beforehand what you will eat.
  • Remember why you are eating low-carb, before you order and when you’re tempted to eat off of someone else’s plate.
  • Make the best choice from the items that are available.

Enjoy your next dining out!

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Dining Out, Low-Carb Diet, Reviews

 

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Burger King’s Low-Carb Whopper Review

Yesterday evening after work, I had dinner at Burger King on our military installation before going to the movies.  I had to eat something substantial, or I would’ve caved in to the seducing aroma of movie popcorn – of course, drenched in butter and a bit of popcorn salt on top.  In my opinion, that’s the ONLY way to REALLY enjoy popcorn.  Yet, it’s still a No-Go for me, as I can eat almost an entire bag on my own.  Can you say CARB-CITY?  I just don’t want to ruin the progress I’ve made in my health so far.

The Old Way: Since starting on Atkins, I’ve eaten at Burger King a few times for lunch.  Normally, I order a double whopper with cheese, leave off ketchup (and pickles – just because I don’t like them), and buy a bottle of water, since the German diet cokes are way too sweet of my taste.  If I must have some soda, I just grab a small bottle of American diet coke in the PX next door before I get  my lunch at the food court.   When I sit down to eat my burger, I just toss the bun to the side and eat the burger with a fork and knife.  I’ve gotten some odd looks here and there, but I ignore those… heck, I’d probably do a double-take, too, if I’d seen someone eat a burger with a fork & knife.

My Find – The LC Double Whopper: So, yesterday when I went to BK, the manager was working at the register.  What a great opportunity to ask about this low-carb burger they had advertised when I arrived in Germany a year ago.  “Can I help you?”, he asked.

“Yes, do you still have these low-carb burgers you were selling a few months ago?”

He punched a few buttons on his register. “Let me see if we still have it listed in here.  Ah, there it is!  Yes, I can still get that for you.”

“Yay! I want one, please!”

He punched some more buttons.  “Would you like this to be a double whopper with cheese?”

“Sure,” I answered, “no ketchup, no pickles.”

“No problem.”, he said. “It doesn’t come with mayo, as it gets messy, but I can give you a packet, if you like.”

“Sure.”

I paid for my burger and small bottle of water and patiently waited for my low-carb whopper.  I expected a little confusion from the kitchen area, since I’m probably the only person in the last 6 months who ordered one of those things.  Sure enough, a head poked out from behind the warmer.  “Dave, what’s a lc double whopper?”  So the manager gave the guys in the back a quick crash-course on how to put together my low-carb burger.

My number was called 3 minutes later and my lc whopper was presented in a little salad bowl with a lid.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I sat down and opened the lid.  At first glance it looked like a salad, but yes, I found the meat on the bottom as I poked my fork into the veggies.  I squirted some mayo on top and I was ready to eat.

Culinary Delight: The first thing I noticed was that it was a little bit difficult to cut, since it was in a rounded container, but I didn’t mind that too much, because it was presented very well and people don’t stare at you, since it looks like you’re eating a salad.  Loved the tasted, too!  You have your meat to fill you up, the crunch of the veggies, and the creaminess of the cheese and mayo.  Once I was done with my burger, I was pleasantly full and was able to go to the theater without being tempted to eat popcorn.  I didn’t even miss it while watching the movie.

Toss the Bun vs. LC Whopper: I think, I prefer getting the low-carb burger instead of performing surgery at the table on a normal whopper.  Maybe they have a flat plate next time instead of the bowl that I can eat out of… Hey, have it your way, right?

One final thought on BK fries: The funny thing is, I used to be a french fry addict, but I can leave them now – they don’t have the power they used to have over me.  Sure, I’d love to eat them, but sometimes, when I’m out with my family, I’ll sneak just one for the flavor off of their plate and while I’m sitting there chewing it, I realize, that they don’t really taste as good as I remembered them.  Weird…

 

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2010 in Low-Carb Diet, Reviews

 

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Eating Out Low-Carb in Germany

We are living in a small German town and you can count the area restaurants on your fingers.  Since the kids were out-of-town, we decided to try this more expensive restaurant in town that we haven’t been to before.  It was gorgeous inside with old pictures of the place from way back when – talking about black & white pictures with horses still pulling carts.  It was a really cozy little place.  We had nice deer-place mats in front of us made of a thick felt and the brown metal napkin rings had a little deer poking out at an angle – dang, I wish I took my camera.

The waitress came with the menu, and I ordered a hot tea, since we got a good bit of snow again over night.  As I opened the menu and read through my choices.  I started to get a bit worried, because most of what I saw had Spaetzle, Dumplings, fruit sauces and all kinds of carby stuff with it.  But then I found a dish of roast in a mustard coating on cabbage with home fried potatoes.  That was a definite option, I just had to do something about the potatoes.  I asked the waitress if I could have broccoli on the side (saw it on the meal above), since I cannot have potatoes.  ” No problem at all!”  she answered.  Hey, that was easy!  Because I’ve been to a bistro-style place a few weeks ago, where they would not swap anything for the fries, so I stole one and gave the rest to hubby.  But this time, I figured, if they charge that much money, they have a decent cook who is willing to accommodate his guests.

Oh, my gosh, the food was soooo yummy!  The meat was tender and the veggies soft and buttery.  Oooh, to die for!  When I was finished, I had the waitress pack the rest of the veggies to take home so I can have some for lunch again today.  We did pay a pretty penny to eat there, 31 Euros for the two of us, but it was well worth it!

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2010 in Low-Carb Diet

 

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