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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

That's what I love about Texas.

Good news: YOU don’t have to be bigger in Texas.

Last week, I spent the first part of the week in Tampa and the second part of the week in Houston.   

I have to say that Texas is one of my favorite states in our good old US of A.  Everyone around you is so proud of where they are from, they love America, they wear REAL cowboy boots, they have a thing for mixology, and they have a way of being southern without being redneck.  They say y’all, the world ends if a man does not hold the door for you, and let’s be honest, you can never go hungry in Texas.   


I stayed near the baseball stadium in downtown Houston and stumbled upon Irma’s Southwest Grill with my colleague.  We were trying to grab salads at a steakhouse nearby to finish up some slides before a presentation but it ended up being closed and Irma’s won by default.



This fabulous high-end yet casual Tex-Mex restaurant was buzzing at lunch time.  It was tough to get a seat, but we managed, and we waited for menus.  When the waitress came around, she explained that it was a “verbal” menu.  I had never heard of that in a Tex Mex restaurant before, but we asked what she recommended.

She then immediately proceeded to speak words that I’m surprised didn’t make me just gain ten pounds on the spot and explode out of my pencil skirt from all the fat talk. 



“We have deep fried chile rellenos covered in a homemade sour cream based sauce, a kobe beef burger, a combo with a cheese enchilada, a beef enchilada, and a chicken enchilada with ancho chile sauce, homemade pork tamales, and maybe sopapillas for dessert?”



If I could have said what I wanted to say to this woman, I would have said, “Actually, why don’t you just bring me one of those combo meals, but triple it, a tranquilizer, and a bucket of cheese? Oh, and you can just throw my laptop in the trash because I’ll be in a food coma for the next ten hours.”



This is a prime example of the restaurant industry trying to make you look like the nutty professor (the before version). 


I had to ask specifically for something light, and she said that the options were slim but that they had a blackened salmon salad.  I asked if it came with cheese or croutons and she said no. 

The result was an amazing salmon salad.  I can’t believe she didn’t mention it to begin with. 


I am a sucker for avocados, so I was thrilled that the only fats in the salad were healthy ones.  Tons of yummy veggies, and slices of fresh, beautiful avocados with a healthy vinaigrette. I ended up using the salsa as my dressing because it was legitimately the best salsa I’ve ever had in my life.



Texas salsa – 1, Florida salsa—0. 

I’m one of those people that judges restaurants by their salsa, so Irma’s gets an A+ in my book, even if they were trying to make me a viable candidate for that 900 pound man show on TLC. This salad was awesome, it filled me up, and I didn’t feel like I had acquired an additional chin.



The moral of the story is that there is always a healthy choice, and you have to make it happen, even if it’s not “on the menu.”  My lunch landed around 300 calories, when that chile rellenos mess would have been over 1000.  There’s a time and a place for that if you’re into it, but definitely not before a meeting that you’ve been preparing for all week. 

Enjoy going out to eat, but make sure you know what’s in your food (which is sometimes made difficult – especially if it’s a verbal menu!).  Opt for a salad when possible, but say no to creamy dressing, say no to cheese, and say no to croutons.  Living by those three rules in general will save at least 300 calories on your meal.  It’s the simple changes that make the big difference. 

I hope if you find yourself in Houston, you hit up Irma’s and you turn down that train wreck of a suggestion list.  The salmon salad is to die for.  Live by rules like these whether you’re in Texas, or anywhere else, y’all. 



THIS is what I love most about Texas :) My oldest friend that now resides in Austin - LUCKY DUCK.

Texas is a state of mind.
Texas is an obsession.

Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word. ”
- John Steinbeck

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