It's no surprise that living a low carb dining out in Acadiana can be a challenge for even those with the strongest self control. With delicious temptations literally around every corner, it's easy to fall off the wagon when a friend or colleague invites you out to dinner. A lack of variety in meal options can cause people to quit their meal plans before they reach their ideal weight. With a little will power and some insight, it is relatively easy to enjoy appetizers and entrees in Cajun country without wrecking your healthy eating habits.
Our NuBody staff writer sampled dishes from popular Acadiana restaurants and compiled a list of suggested appetizers and entrees that are both delicious and friendly to a keto lifestyle.
Appetizer: Crabmeat Cheesecake
This is not your average cheesecake. Ruffino's has created a low carb savory appetizer that will rock your tastebuds. With a crust made of pecans and butter and a rich filling made from lump crabmeat, eggs and cheese, you can share this with a friend to cut calories.
Spinalis is an underrated cut of beef. Similar to a skirt or flank steak, this is possibly the meatiest, most flavorful, tender, and buttery steak you will find anywhere. Ruffino's has placed this steak on their "Chef's Cuts" portion of the menu for good reason. Served with a side of scrumptious, garlicky, al dente green beans (haricots verts), substitute the wild mushroom bread pudding for double beans to round out a filling, guilt free, keto-friendly dinner.
Zea Rotisserie & Grill
Appetizer: Fresh Shrimp Lettuce Wrap
Zea has a ton of yummy appetizers, but if you are looking to stay on track with a ketogenic diet and avoid substitutions, this lettuce wrap appetizer is one of the healthiest and most filling dishes on the menu. Fresh gulf shrimp are tossed with feta cheese, briny calamata olives, and olive oil. Use the sriracha hummus very sparingly (1 tbsp or less) to avoid a spike in blood sugar.
Entree: Pesto Trout
Beware of sauces when you are dining out anywhere, Zea is no exception. Many of the sauces on their menu are described as "sweet and spicy," or "sweet and tangy," which are almost always indications of hidden sugars. The delicious pesto encrusted trout is a lower calorie, sugar-free dish that packs a punch of flavor. When choosing two sides to compliment your fresh grilled gulf fish, go for the thai snap beans and braised cabbage.
Marcello's Wine Market & Cafe
Appetizer: Fresh Mussels
If you are a seafood lover, mussels are a great source of protein, and are usually served cooked, unlike oysters. Marcello's mussels are steamed until fully cooked, then tossed in a spicy mix of pureed tomatoes, white wine, saffron and crushed red pepper.
Entree: Pesce Limone
A signature dish at Marcello's, their gulf catch of the day is topped with a lemon, butter and caper sauce with a side of grilled asparagus.
Didn't think you would find a burger joint on this list? Fat Pat's is very friendly about making dishes with substitutions, which is something you should look for in a restaurant when living a keto lifestyle. Any of Fat Pat's burgers and sandwiches can be ordered with no bun. Avoid sauces that may contain sugars. Go ahead, make it a double cheeseburger!
"Legendary" for their big, juicy burgers, owner Jared Doise decided to add healthy options to his Legend's Annex menu several years back when he made a decision to eat healthier in his own life. The Legend's Grilled Chicken Salad mixes deliciously seasoned lean chicken, fresh greens, portabello mushrooms and red onions with a spicy and tangy vinaigrette. Stick with simple vinaigrettes like this one when you are ordering salads anywhere for maximum flavor and minimum guilt.
Remember Not To Give Up
There are so many ways to enjoy the bounty of amazing food that we have available to us in South Louisiana. Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions, watch out for hidden sugars, and share appetizers to cut calories. If you are going to have a cocktail or two with dinner, stick with clear alcohols like gin and vodka, and do your research on mixers. Add flavor with no sugar by using lemons, limes and olive juice to give your drink a spark of flavor. My personal favorite is a dirty Grey Goose martini, which has 0 net carbs and 150 calories.
Bon Apetit, Acadiana!