Great Southern eating: Barbecue joints you must try

Barbecue is a favorite not just down South but in many other regions. And what better way to celebrate summer and the July 4th holiday than by eating some grilled meat drenched in the sauce of your choice. I have been to Kansas City a few times since my sister moved there and I will admit they have some great barbecue. But we have found some great choices close our Northwest Georgia home. We have not been to every barbecue joint in the region so feel free to make some suggestions. Here are a few of our favorites and some sent in by our readers. These are in no particular order listed by state.

Alabama

My pork plate at Pruett’s

Pruett’s Bar-B-Q, Gadsden

We love Gadsden, Ala. and on our last trip, I let my husband choose the restaurant. He chose Pruett’s. We got there on a Friday at around 1:30 p.m. and the place was still packed. But the food was worth the wait. I decided to get the sampler plate that no only included barbecue but their famous catfish and chicken tenders. My husband loves the Gospel Bird so of course he ordered the smoked chicken. The meat is great but the sauce is sweeter than I am used to eating. I know it’s not barbecue but let me make a plug for the chicken tenders—homemade and cooked to perfection. Gadsden has a lot of good places to eat (Top o’ the River is just across the street), but we are going to make it a priority to go back here.

Georgia

Dub’s High on the Hog, Calhoun

My delicious pork plate

For years my husband passed by a log-cabin style building on U.S. 41 in Calhoun that always had a lot of cars in the parking lot. We finally stopped one day and were kicking ourselves for not stopping sooner. Dub’s High on the Hog will leave you high on their barbecue and wanting more. We have been back a couple of times and have tried a few things.  My favorite is the pork plate. Their sides are amazing, too (be sure to try some baked beans).

Tennessee

Edley’s Bar-B-Q, Nashville

Edley’s menu

I almost always take a picture of my food when we eat out. Sadly, I was just too hungry the day we visited Edley’s Bar-B-Q in Nashville. Again, I had the pork plate. The meat was just as good without any sauce. And I loved the potato salad and baked beans. I snuck a taste of my son’s macaroni and cheese and wished I had ordered another side. We are hoping to visit the one in Chattanooga, soon.

Moe’s brisket

Our favorite chain

When Moe’s Original Barbecue first came to my hometown of Rome, Ga., I didn’t realize they have locations across the country. This great Southern food is available in California and Wyoming among a lot of other places.

I have never had a bad meal at Moe’s. I usually get the pork plate of sandwich. But on one of our visits my husband ordered the Redneck Nachos. That was a favorite for a while. Then a Facebook friend told me to try the mahi-mahi. It was the best fish dish I have ever had. As for the sides, I love their macaroni and cheese and the banana pudding (I hope my doctor isn’t reading this) . My family has never had a bad meal here.

Reader’s choices

Alicia Evans Brown mentioned Character’s Famous BBQ in Adairsville, Ga. We were going to mention it, too. Michael Character has competed across the country and was featured on Pitmasters. This is another restaurant where you hate to put sauce on the meat because it’s so tasty without it. But the sauces are so good. My favorite side is the baked beans.

Debby Zeigler loves Zeigler’s BBQ on Cobb Parkway in Acworth. We have not been there but we plan to visit soon!

What’s your favorite barbecue? Let us know in the comments!

Southern Eating: Tips for eating out with diabetes

Traveling can be challenging and eating out with diabetes adds a new challenge. I am a diabetic and honestly, I don’t always eat like I should. We are on the road to somewhere nearly every weekend and sometimes through the week. That means we eat a lot of meals on the road. I love hamburgers, fried chicken and sweets but my blood sugar does not. I try to avoid buns and potatoes which is challenging when you are looking for quick eats on the road. And while I will have a salad on occasion, I really don’t like them.  Luckily, some restaurants offer some decent choices for diabetics. One thing to keep in mind, even if the restaurant/fast food fare is low in calories and carbs, it still may have a lot of sodium. I am not a nutritionist but here are five of my favorites.

Chick-Fil-A

The best meal is grilled nuggets and a side salad. I don’t really like salad so I get fruit and pick out the melons, which usually spike my blood sugar numbers. And if I am really bad, I get the fries and Chick-Fil-A sauce anyway. I am not a fan of wraps but they have several options on the menu. They also have salads if you like them. Chick-Fil-A tops this list because of their app that lets you accumulate points to get free food and often randomly offers freebies.

Captain D’s

I love their grilled fish options and their broccoli is great. Unfortunately, the grilled items are served with the best breadstick I have ever tasted. I sometimes let myself have it anyway since I am not eating their delicious hush puppies. Of course, my favorite there is their two-piece fried fish meal but it’s another meal my blood sugar doesn’t like. They have a rewards program but I have not signed up yet.

Cracker Barrel

My Cracker Barrel Meal

I don’t think I could survive diabetes without Cracker Barrel’s grilled tenderloins, green beans and pinto beans. They always bring me the biscuit but luckily, I have a husband who can take that off my hands. Cracker Barrel does have salads that some of my friends say are great. Another low carb option–egg whites and turkey sausage. Breakfast is served all day there.

The Big Chicken in Marietta

KFC

When I was following Weight Watchers’ points system one of my go-to meals was a grilled chicken breast and green beans—three points. Their grilled chicken is delicious but I am not a big fan of the green beans but I eat them. I just have to avoid that biscuit!

Wendy’s

Wendy’s has some great salads but I love their chili. It has 28 carbs without the crackers but it only has 8 grams of fat, a trade-off for me. Their grilled chicken sandwiches are also great but I have to leave off the bun. Wendy’s also has an app that offers discounts.

Managing diabetes is all about watching the carbs. Here’s how I eat out with diabetes and keep it low-carb, at least most of the time.

Mexican restaurants

I usually order a salad without that yummy shell. I do allow myself to indulge in some chips and queso but I try not to eat the entire basket of chips (believe me, I could!). When I am at fast food Mexican restaurants, I have been known to order tacos and dump out the contents. Sometimes my husband will eat the shells so they are not wasted.

Italian restaurants and pizza

I just don’t think it is healthy to avoid Italian food all of your life. While it seems impossible, there are ways to limit the carb impact. I try to plan my meals in advance so sometimes I will just reduce my carbs slightly at other meals and have a small portion of pasta. I can always take it home, portion it out and enjoy it for a few days. Let’s face it, most restaurants give you several portions. You can also ask for whole wheat pasta. This is what we always eat at home and I actually prefer the taste now.

Pizza is another challenge. Some restaurants will have the cauliflower or broccoli crust. But everything is about moderation. Just have a slice instead of an entire pizza. Load it up with veggies to get the fiber benefit.

American dining

Most restaurants offer low -carb options and at least a salad or salad bar if you want to get your veggies on the plate. You can plan your meals ahead by looking at the restaurant’s menu. My favorite discovery was at a Chattanooga-area restaurant called Merv’s. This cheeseburger salad tastes just like a Big Mac without the bun and carbs. And remember, I don’t like salad! If I want a burger, I sometimes ask for it without the bun, anyway.

Asian food

Asian food is a bit more challenging. My favorite is sesame chicken and rice or hibachi. I have tried eating the chicken without the rice but that didn’t satisfy me. I usually just try to plan ahead and treat myself. On days when I can’t I just forgive myself!

Desserts

My husband is a good man and he will often order a dessert just so I can have a taste of it. I try to be careful and keep it to just a “taste” but I sometimes get a bit carried away! Many restaurants have no-sugar options that are good. Just check the carb count if you can. Another option is a small serving of ice cream. It’s a little heavy in carbs for me, it’s a better alternative.

Other tips

The Australian Bakery
  • Buffets: I love them but I have no self-control. I have to be very good for a long time before I will treat myself to a buffet. Maybe you have enough self-control but I don’t!
  • I order salads to complement my meals. I was dying to try the Shepherd’s Pie at the Australian Bakery in Marietta. I just added a salad. I will admit to indulging in their Pavlova cake. It’s my new favorite dessert!
  • I always try to walk at least a mile every day. Exercise burns off calories and carbs and makes my “mistakes” less painful.
  • I am never too hard on myself. You may see me post some food that is not really the best for a diabetic. Many times, it’s someone else’s plate but sometimes, you just have to give in and enjoy what you really want. Even if I don’t burn it off with exercise, I don’t sit around and lament over it. I just do better.

What are some of your helpful tips for eating well while traveling? I would love to hear them!

Bush’s Visitor Center

The word “beans” sometimes refers more than the wide variety of legumes that grace our dinner tables. You can say you don’t give “beans” about a subject. Or you can say you are making “beans.” The Bush family has made beans literally and figuratively from their long line of products that date back to 1908.

On my trip to the Great Smoky Mountains to celebrate a half century of life a couple of years ago, the Bush’s Visitor Center was on my list. It’s about 19 miles from Pigeon Forge and our favorite hotel so I talked myself out of going. But my husband persisted since it was all I talked about when planning the trip. Give a gold star to the hubs because we would have missed the best part of our trip.

I love history and learning and Bush’s Visitor Center did not disappoint. I was fascinated by the short film that showed beans and the fixings in big vats ready to be canned and shipped around the world. Interspersed with the bean-making story was the story of the Bush Family. I had no idea the company offered anything but beans! But no more spoilers. You need to see the film for yourself.

After the film, you can visit the museum to learn more. The bean can tunnel—pretty cool!

bean can

For marketing professionals, the story of the company’s popular campaign featuring Jay Bush and Duke is inspiring. I would love to have a talking dog represent me but I am not sure where to find one. Sadly, Duke passed away after our visit. And Jay now has a beard!

me and bush

At the end of the tour, you get a free picture. The young lady making the pictures was so nice and let us take it until we had one we liked.

Of course, you need a “beautiful bean” souvenir. The prices in the general store were very reasonable. I purchased a couple of things and spent less than $10!

Okay, I have not even got to the best part. A café adjoins the museum and general store. I think the hubs had eyed a KFC in Sevierville and was ready to ease on down the road. But it was 1 p.m. and the pound of bacon I ate at the breakfast buffet in Pigeon Forge was beginning to wear off so we gave it a shot. We were so glad we did.

No surprise that when you are seated you are given a small serving of baked beans! I was off my diet so I ordered sweet tea. I am not exaggerating—the best tea I have ever had! The $7.99 special was chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and green beans. I was expecting a Zaxby’s style meal. Again, I was so glad I was wrong! See for yourself!

bean lunch

We were there on a Tuesday and the crowd was mostly older people. Several church vans were in the parking lot when we arrived. I think kids will enjoy the museum and a little dose of history never hurt anyone! Besides that, the drive to Chestnut Hill is gorgeous.

We are going back to the Smoky Mountains for my birthday again this month. I am always on the lookout for out-of-the-way treasures and places. What are some of the secret places you like to visit?