Monday, July 14, 2014

North Carolina BBQ and How I Ate My Way Through a Vacation Without Gaining Weight

Living in Texas, I'm quite familiar with barbecue, which is not to be confused with grilling food on the barbecue, which is how I used to refer to cooking anything on one of these:
Note to self:  this is a grill, not a barbecue.

Anyway, Texas barbecue is beef-centric...of course, my favorite is smoked turkey, but then I'm not a born-and-bred Texan, so there you go.  North Carolina BBQ is pork-centric, and apparently there's two types - regular, and Eastern North Carolina, otherwise known as ENC BBQ, which has a spicy vinegar sauce.  We went to The Pit in Durham and had quite the experience, from the free valet parking (at a BBQ joint?  I was shocked) to our super-friendly waiter, Dante, giving us the full explanation of everything on the menu.  We all got different meats and sides and traded bites once the food was delivered.  Here's my plate - I ordered the chopped barbecue, ENC-style.  With cole slaw and potato salad...oh and they also delivered homemade biscuits and hush puppies (which were soooooo good) - you can see them in the small plate at the top of the picture:   
Enough for a food coma, as Sam put it...if you ate it all.
Sam and I - he's got a goofy look on his face because he won't just smile like a normal person.
I also had my first Cheerwine at The Pit!  Cheerwine is THE soft drink of the south, and it was created in North Carolina nearly 100 years ago.  I don't normally drink sodas, but just once, I had to try it.  I've heard it tasted like a Dr. Pepper with grenadine syrup in it - not sure I completely agree with that, but I did like it and was surprised that it wasn't overly sweet.

That was a lot of food.  And I was definitely full when we left, but I wasn't completely dying.  Why?  Because I managed to not finish anything.  I had a bite of this and three bites of that, enjoying everything, but was mentally fine with leaving food on my plate (although Jeff and Sam couldn't stand it and scavenged what I didn't eat).  I did this throughout our visit to North Carolina - if something looked intriguing, I ordered it, but I was very aware of how I felt as I ate, and I stopped well before finishing my meal, and also before I felt stuffed.

Jeff and I also split a lot of our meals - for example, at Zinburger in Durham, we ordered one hamburger (the Samburger - how could we resist?) and also a chopped salad; our waitress used the term "split and marry" when she saw what we wanted, and we each received a plate with half a hamburger and half the salad.  Anna's Pizzeria in downtown Apex had the most amazing Crostino pizza:
I had a slice and a half.  Yes, I could have eaten more, but I liked walking away from lunch not hating myself for jamming all the food down my gullet.

We happened to be in downtown Raleigh one day around lunchtime and went to The Pit there, because that ENC BBQ was just too good to resist, but this time we got salads with a side of meat.  Here's the picture I texted to Sam, who was at work:
Jeff was holding up the bottles of BBQ sauce - Sam instantly knew where we were (and we got a "no fair!!!" from him)

Most days I ate either my usual breakfast (Fage/granola/fruit) or sometimes I had a turkey bacon eggwhite breakfast sandwich from Starbucks (if we'd gone running in the morning).  We managed to cook some meals at Sam's place but still ate out every couple of days or so - hey, we were on vacation and wanted to try all the new (to us) places!   But by keeping myself in check with portions and hunger cues, I came home feeling pretty good, which is a miracle considering who I am, where I've come from, and the fact that I ate a lot of really tasty food.

Couple more pictures of the good stuff (honestly, I forgot to take pictures of most things):
Ginormous pretzel (hand for scale) from Tyler's Taproom, where we met blogger friends Rachel and Dave for dinner.  Last March, when I traveled to SLC with Amy, I learned that brewpubs tend to have really good homemade pretzels so I had to order this as an appetizer.  It WAS good!  Shared with everyone; I got the taste I wanted without too many calories.

Here's the peaches we bought in South Carolina on our drive home - there were billboards pushing fresh peaches (I did not know SC was such a peach place...thought that was Georgia's domain), and they looked so good we had to stop at a fruit stand to get some.  Bought them in SC, ate them in Georgia when we took a lunch break (at Subway - meh, but we had the dog with us, so we needed somewhere with outside seating and this fit the bill):
Juicy, drippy, messy and so very yummy!

I'm sure the fact that we ran and walked a lot helped with leveling the calories in/calories out part, but I have to say I'm pretty content with all that I got to eat plus the fact that I'm still fitting comfortably in my clothes!


  1. seriously I gots nada except I MISSSSS chapel hill and durham.
    a lot lot.

  2. Gah! You are killing me with the BBQ pictures. I want some now!! And those peaches. I might have had to buy a bunch of them.

    So great that you were able to enjoy new and fun foods on your vacation with no guilt and no gain. Seriously though, doesn't food just taste better in general when you're hungry and don't overeat it?

    1. It does, and it's nice to not mentally berate myself after a meal, as well.

  3. I'm glad you put that sentence in "which is a miracle considering who I am, where I've come from, and the fact that I ate a lot of really tasty food."--because I'm reading this thinking--I wish I could do that. Its a total mind thing. Sometimes I can let go of the guilt and eat what I want, but I don't usually control the portions. Still working on that one.

    I love barbecue, from my years in Texas. There are a couple of places out here that aren't bad. And the peaches--YUMMMMM!!

    1. That sentence, yes. Because I don't always think like a "normal" person when it comes to food.

  4. Shelly, I'm on the road plenty over the next 6 wks, it's great to see how others manage the eating, thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome, and thanks for commenting! Now I have a new blog to read. :)

  5. I eat a *lot* on vacation, but really less than I used to. I always gain though - I am jealous you can eat BBQ and not gain!

  6. Well done, friend. Fun to read about the places you visited. You're mean parents texting a pic while Sam was *working*! Haha
    I think my mouth legit watered at the peach photo.

  7. Girl that food looks delicious! Good for you stopping when you were full. Still learning that :)
    I don't watch my food when on vacation but since we are pretty active most vacations I haven't gained the past vacations.

    Glad you just enjoyed everything, that's how it should be on a vacation.

  8. What a wonderful vacation!!! I LOL at Sam's "no fair" text!!

  9. So glad to see there is a light at the end.. hopefully we all will be able to do what you did.. and taste everything yet stuff nothing.... i guess thats why they use the term Life style... your life style has changed and thats awesome !!

  10. We moved to North Carolina three years ago, military move, and were very surprised by the vinegary barbecue. I'm glad you enjoyed your visit.

  11. That's awesome, I love that you used portion control and listening to your hunger. I hope I have the same success on my vacation next week!


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