In last year’s installment of keto vacations, my family and I went to the theme park. This year we spent several days in the mountains of lovely Blue Ridge, Georgia, where the view from our cabin’s back porch looked like this:
Many, many people come to our Ketogenic Success Facebook group wanting to know how they can vacay while remaining keto (Is it even possible? Can I sample local cuisine? Can I cheat? Etc and so on). As I documented in my previous vacation post, it’s very possible (even easy!) to maintain your keto lifestyle even at a vacation destination notorious for carb-crazy foods. With a little bit of forethought, there isn’t any reason to ever break keto on vacation.
We spent our time this year largely at our cabin. Even though we had an indoor and outdoor kitchen, Mama didn’t feel like cooking on her vacation so we largely made-do with what quick foods we could find from the local grocery store, both at home and at our destination, and a few dinners out.
On the eight-hour car ride up, I broke my overnight fast with coffee (sweetened with my own friendly stevia/erythritol packets from home) and a sleeve of salted almonds I picked up from a convenience store when we stopped for gas. We didn’t have a full meal until we arrived at our location. Because we were in a hurry to get to our digs, we ran through a drive-through, where I was able to score a grilled chicken and fresh mozzarella salad. I threw out the croutons and asked for full fat Ceasar dressing (a win at 1 carb per packet) instead of the sugary vinaigrette it was normally served with.
Dinner was out at a local spot we found while walking along the tourist-y Main Street area. Most of the menus were posted outside so I was able to quickly rule out the Italian place (all pasta and bread) and the up-scale grill (a bit too posh for the likes of my kiddos). We found a lovely place in a renovated old home that served authentic Southern cuisine (aka, good, old-fashioned country cookin’) and settled in.
I passed on the biscuits and apple butter and ordered a smothered chicken platter. What they brought out was quite wonderful: grilled chicken topped with grilled mushrooms, crispy fried bacon, and smothered with cheese, fresh steamed broccoli with butter, and Southern-style green beans with actual bits of salt pork in them. It was culinary heaven for a Southerner like me.
After dinner we had an awesome evening, watching the sunset off the cabin balcony, building a fire in the fire pit outdoors, and eventually playing several rounds of pool in the cabin’s basement game room.
The owners of our home-away-from-home were kind enough to have a coffee station in both the kitchen and the master bedroom, and they even had friendly stevia packets! Unfortunately, they only had half-n-half so we were sure to hit the local grocer’s for some heavy cream, and I grabbed a small jar of coconut oil to help fatten things up a bit. I probably drank three pots of coffee during out stay, because coffee.
We also managed to find some small packages of panino sticks (salami rolled around spicy mozzarella cheese), salted sunflower seeds, and a couple of friendly protein bars (emergency food, in case all else failed and/or we found ourselves lost in the woods). We grabbed a case of unsweetened, lime flavored sparkling water and I was pretty set for some rest and relaxation.
The morning of our second day was spent lounging around the cabin, reading and drinking coffee. I nibbled on a couple of the panino sticks and sunflower seeds for lunch, and then we jumped in the car for our first outdoor destination: Little Rock Creek Falls.
It took a while- and some minor off-roading in my hybrid (don’t try that at home!)- but we found the trailhead to the falls and had a nice hike with the fam. Hiking was something I hated as a kid, so I was pleasantly surprised that, not only did I have zero struggles on the little trail, I actually enjoyed my time outdoors. That would be completely inconceivable in my pre-keto days, wherein I considered myself allergic to the outside and loathed even the most mildly strenuous of physical activities. But thanks to my keto lifestyle, I now love being outside and am enjoying my newfound ability to endure activities like hiking.
After our hike- and finding our way back onto paved roads- we headed back towards town and visited a local orchard for a round of wine tasting. Yes, ketonians! You can taste some wine.
This was probably the most carb-heavy part of my trip, however I was sure to discuss my dietary needs with our server, and she was great about recommending which wines and hard ciders were the driest (in other words, had the least sugar remaining after fermentation and maturation processes). When all was said and done, I settled on a hard cider that was made via the same process in which they make very dry champagne (a double fermentation which leaves behind all those lovely bubbles with almost no sugar remaining in the end product).
Also of note, I was stoked to find they made and sold their own cheese “crackers” made of only crisped cheeses, salt, and herbs. Keto eating is catching on, y’all!
After our stop at the orchard, it was time for dinner. I didn’t manage to snap a picture of it, but my final dinner in town was pork belly smothered in cheese. It was delightful and I was excited to be able to find it!
Another evening beside the fire pit, then playing pool and board games with the kids rounded out day two of our mountain adventure.
Day three was, sadly, our day to check out and return home. I had a pile of coffee and the last of my panino sticks, packed up our things, and we headed out. On the long drive home, I had more coffee (coffee is my life, ok?!) with my own sweetener packets, and another sleeve of almonds. Once we arrived back in town, we were all pretty hungry and tired, so there was no way I was cooking. Inspired by that first dinner I had in the mountains, we went to a local joint in my town, wherein I had a side salad (no tomato and no croutons) topped with blue cheese dressing, and grilled chicken topped with mushrooms, bacon, and cheese: so excellent a flavor combo that I had to have it again!
From there we went home, unpacked, relaxed a little, and then crashed.
As you can see, I made it the entire trip without eating one piece of bread, had no cake or cookies, and no local dessert “delicacy”. The area we were in was covered in fruit orchards, and deep fried hand-pies and pecan pralines were all over the place. Not only did I pass, I was perfectly comfortable doing so. I didn’t feel at all pressured to “indulge” in any carbage, and the one place where I could really have fallen down (at the wine tasting) I was fine because I was diligent in asking questions and being choosy.
I stated in my previous piece, and it still holds true, when you’re on vacation everything probably won’t be completely perfect keto. I’m sure my pork belly wasn’t fried in avocado oil (probably veggie or soy oil) and I know the salad dressings were probably soy-based. And that’s ok. We don’t expect anyone to be a hermit and only ever eat anything they’ve personally prepared. The point of these pieces is to show you that you absolutely can keep very close to your new lifestyle and still enjoy yourself when you go away from home for a while. It takes being mindful and a willingness to take a few extra minutes to look and ask questions, but it is doable.
Not only did I not even remotely suffer on our trip, I had a great time and I came away excited to have found out how much keto has helped me physically in the last two years. I’ve come so far and will never look back! You can do it, too!