Scoring a Low Carb Touchdown for the Home Team

Low Carb Tailgaiting From Texas

Navigating through the pitfalls of the defensive line takes creativity and practice
Navigating through the pitfalls of the defensive line takes creativity and practice.

Many low carbers look forward to Labor Day and getting the kids back to school. Fall comes with schedules and routines – squelching loosey-goosey vacation noshing, between meal munching and less than sterling fun-in-the-sun food indiscretions. Fall signals a return to stalwart low carb behavior. One last ditch push before the holiday eating marathon begins. One more chance to close the year with a loss showing on the weight loss spreadsheet.

But for some of us, fall doesn’t signal a return to eating sanity. Fall simply heralds a new onslaught of temptation for Weekday Saints and Weekend Sinners. Fall represents three months of nail-biting, nerve tingling temptations, prime opportunities to face-plant off the low carb wagon.

Photo used by permission

The kids are back in school, and for most of us that means, “The boys are back in town!”  Ask anyone in Texas the word mostly associated with fall and 9 out of 10 will shout, “Football!” To many of us in Texas, football surpasses obsession, landing smack dab in the middle of “Religion”. My sainted Daddy, may he rest in peace, described the conveniently scheduled 6:oo pm Sunday Mass at St. Christopher’s  as  “The mass specially conducted for duck hunters, drunks, and football fanatics.”

Football,  my friends, almost completely obliterates any advantage fall might hold over summer for pristine diet behavior. That’s why it’s so important to have a winning game plan with a strong offense and well-mounted defense.

Texans are football frenzied, FAN-atics.

Friday Night LightsAre you familiar with Friday Night Lights (FNL)? That’s where local, hormone-addled football heroes make equally hormone-addled drill team captains swoon with their gridiron dominance and fancy footwork.

Everyone in the community shows up for the FNL action, including cheering and sucking down popcorn, cotton candy, hotdogs, corndogs, frito pie, moon pies, chips, fries, pixie stix and lions, tigers, and bears – oh my! There are sugary drinks flowin’ in the fountain and risky behavior goin’ on under every bleacher, statewide.

The Weekday Saints are just sittin’ on their hands, willing themselves to stay out of their kid’s pretzel bites and popcorn. They wrestle with their consciences, steel their determination and try to rationalize away that teensy tiny piece of crust they ate from that pre-game pizza.


RunningbackThen there’s Saturday. Heck fire! It’s not only Texans who have football fever on Saturdays. The whole entire U.S. of A. gets caught up in college football game-day revelry. On Wisconsin! Geaux Tigers! Roll Tide! Hook ‘em Horns! Gig ‘em Aggies! And a side of chips and queso please. Oh and a Texas hot link on a bun, too! Pop-a-top for me, will ya, hon? It’s a mine field of delicious, trashy, high-carbage, tailgating nonsense that leave you flat on your back quicker than a 350 pound missed tackle, if you’re not prepared.

Sunday rounds up the football trifecta. Pro ball time – and aren’t you ready for some football? (As if most of us haven’t already been living and breathing football for the last 48 hours.) The good Lord knows where Sunday pro ball begins, barbeque, chili burgers, bean dip and chips can’t be far behind.

Can I get an, “Amen” here?
Football CandyFall football weekends would be fine if they didn’t come conveniently packaged as opportunities to unwind and party with your  friends, while  shoving every tempting junk food possible down your gullet. But fall football weekends don’t divorce themselves from those temptations.

Three days out of seven of high carb, crap-filled hijinx will get you exactly nowhere – unless it’s an overworked cardiac lab getting a stent or two.  So what’s a sane low carber to do?


White Knuckle Dieting Won’t Get You a First Down

White Jeans
Clearly, she didn’t get the DFSW (Delicate Flower of Southern Womanhood) memo regarding white pants and purses after Labor Day…

Most of you know my feelings about white knuckle, willpower- laden diet grudge matches. We are biochemically set-up by our fat stores and reptilian brains to lose 95% of the time. Are we victims of the fall and The Fall? Are we doomed to give in to the lure of the Lay’s? Some use that defense.  I prefer a strong offense and an excellent running game.

To consistently maintain a low carb lifestyle and successfully lose weight you have to be wily. Don’t depend on the season to make you more compliant with your diet.  Those back to school routines won’t defend you against fall football revelry. You can’t board the back-to-school magic bus and expect it to deliver you to your destination after an entire summer’s disconnect from reality, eating with high-carb abandon.

It may be an unpopular view, but low carb is a diet. Low carb eating requires that we comply with rules and regulations. It limits our food choices.

But if you practice making low carb choices long enough, it also becomes a lifestyle.

So yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of Kyle Field, we shall fear no evil. Why? Because, we have a helluva game plan, that’s why. And the Lord is with thee, of course!

If you plan for success, you can navigate into the end zone and score a win for the home team. Here are a few tips for quarterbackin’ the “hay-ull” (Texan for “hell”) outta fall football season.

Game Changing Strategies

Low carb Chile con Queso with Meat
Low carb Chile con Queso with Meat are a Texas low carb classic. Serve it on pork rinds or veggie dippers and become the MVP!

1. Have a Game Plan

Part of a winning game plan is thinking ahead and making low carb friendly party foods that still satisfy your inner snack monster.

2. Schedule That Soiree

Schedule that football game, and attendant munching, as you would a meal. Include it in your daily meal plan and count those carbs (and calories if you must).

3. Make Pre-Set Limits With Your Bad Self

A winning game plan involves limits. Yes,  limits. Don’t gripe!  Eating without limits is what got us  to the scene of the crash, remember? Hey, football limits us to 4 downs per ball possession! So don’t think you can eat willy-nilly without consequences.  Give your self a carb-limit-per-game, especially if you’re combining solid food with “liquid nutrition.”

I saw your eyes glaze over. You’re thinking, “What’s the big deal with consuming alcohol on a low carb diet? Alcohol isn’t a carbohydrate.”   Well, one of the low carb advantages many of us enjoy is increased satiety. That means we get hungry less often and get the “full” signal from our bellehs, quicker. Yippee!  But alcohol, that sneaky rapscallion, jacks with our system, lowering inhibitions. What looked like a bad idea two beers ago now sounds peachy! Suddenly, setting those limits automatically might not be as easy.

Another big problem arises when there are carbs in your drink. The carbs in alcoholic drinks vary widely:  Most spirits contain zero carbs, sweet liqueurs such as Amaretto or Cointreau contain a lot, lite beer contains anywhere from 2-12g — read the labels! — Guinness about 11g, dry red wine has 2-4g/5oz glass, port has 14.1g in a 3.4oz pour.  Often it’s the mixers that contribute the lion’s share of carbs in your liquid libation, so be careful.  But what about the alcohol itself?

Introducing Dr. Richard Feinman, distinguished researcher, biochemist and published author. Dr. Feinman is  the go-to brainiac on anything having to do with biochemistry and nutrition. Not only does he educate medical students at SUNY Downstate, he also heads the Nutrition & Metabolism Society, an organization dedicated to addressing the problems of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other metabolic diseases of Western civilization through research, education and public awareness.

Says Dr. Feinman, “The effect of alcohol on a low carb diet is largely unknown because, as on any diet, it depends on concentration and what else you are eating. At moderate levels, alcohol is part of metabolism and interacts with all the pathways that are involved in metabolic regulation. It can inhibit gluconeogenesis, although is probably only a problem in extremes (not eating anything). Of course, at a certain point alcohol stops being a food and starts being a drug and is metabolized in a different way. Anecdotally, drinking may allow you to eat more without your noticing it (it is a good solvent). I think the bottom line is that drinking requires some attention while being on a low carb diet. Watching a football game is easy: queso, si; chips, no.”

Dr. Richard Feinman
Dr. Richard Feinman, Self-Portrait. Photo courtesy of Dr. Feinman.

Dr. Feinman wrote an excellent post explaining alcohol metabolism on his blog. I encourage everyone to visit his blog because he displays wicked feats of mental strength in his attempt to teach biochemistry 101 to all of us bone-headed chemistry illiterates who low carb for a week and suddenly think we know what we’re talking about when we discuss fat metabolism and ketogenic diets.

From my  lay-perspective, even though alcohol isn’t a carbohydrate, it affects how your body handles energy production and energy storage. The effects of alcohol and eating are cumulative and you have to look at the metabolism of the entire meal, since you’re digesting things all at once.

Although it’s difficult to say which gets metabolized first, you have to look at what happens when you combine the carbs from your food, any sugars present in the alcoholic drink,  and the alcohol itself. To continue our football theme, you may only have eyes for the quarterback, but the key to the play is happening downfield with the running backs, receivers or maybe even the offensive linemen.

You can’t say that the second you put a drop of alcohol down your piehole, you temporarily quit burning carbs or running on fat for fuel, until such time as that alcohol is broken down in your liver and metabolized. (Well, you could say that, but it wouldn’t be entirely accurate.) There are too many variables and your body doesn’t separate out carb sources or food sources and say, “Oh, I think I will metabolize that 20 oz tallboy first!” It’s a case of everyone onto the field! Go! You begin an on-field muddle that results in a huge dog pile at the 10 yard line, with alcohol getting a penalty for pass-interference. Our body operates by a series of feedback loops.  We want most plays to end up looking like, “No gain on the play! Second down!”

Alcohol Metabolism
Alcohol Metabolism. Courtesy of Dr. Richard Feinman

When alcohol is being burned, your body receives signals to store all excess calories as fat. Lipolysis (fat burning) is temporarily disrupted as is gluconeogenesis (production of sugar in the liver, which is how low carbers make the little glucose we actually need). In extreme cases you get hypoglycemia. That big bowl of chips and queso you’re swilling back with your brewskis goes straight to that spare tire around your waist. So not worth it. Right?

What’s that you say? You’re not cheating, not eating that bowl of chips? So why can’t you have that gin and diet tonic? You can. It’s your choice. But, it doesn’t really matter that you’re low carb while drinking alcohol. Any excess calories and any carbs consumed along with that G&T  present another layer of metabolic mayhem for your body. The big question is  do  you want to continue  the weight loss momentum you’ve got going, or do you want to add another player (the alcohol) to the game,  knowing  he might cause interference and slow down forward momentum? You could end up “3rd and long”.

Yes, planning out your quantities and placing limits on eating and drinking sounds like drudgery. Where’s that spontaneity and devil-may-care attitude? What happened to that lamp shade wearin’, face paintin’ football fan of old? Hopefully that person is in transition, and along with leaving more than a few pounds of spare tires on the field for the guys to run sprints through, you’re becoming a stronger, tougher, more mindful player.

Set Up The Game Winning Cascade

Everyone cheers!
You’re a winner! The crowd goes wild. Everyone cheers!

The proper game plan for your individual metabolism could just turn out to be the MVP (Most Valuble Player) of game day. Game winning strategies set up a winning cascade. Not only will your major organs, arteries and veins thank you, but your psyche will thank you too. You will feel encouraged and empowered. You’ll know that food and alcohol are not what make the party and game day a success.

Confidence soars. There will be no beatings about a fall from low carb grace. You won’t wake the next morning wondering what you did at the game yesterday and why you’re wearing a chip bowl on your head. That three pound weight gain will be conspicuous by its absence. You’ll start the week without  the prospect of being locked in Ground Hog Day Weight Loss,  re-gaining and re-losing the same pounds over and over again, instead of moving forward into virgin weight loss territory.

By running the 1-2-3 playbook of low carb revelry, I guarantee you can enjoy your football fun-time with the fam and friends this fall, while maintaining your girlish or manly figure – even in Texas, where everything is bigger, including large times had by all.

As part of a winning game plan, I thought it would be great if we could share a few of our TNT (Tried N’ True) recipes and tips for successfully running downfield toward the goal line during fall football season.

Let’s hear it! We can’t wait! What are your favorite low carb tailgating and couch surfing party recipes that keep you sane and thriving in a low carb lifestyle? Keep it strictly low carb street legal, please!

Share your favorite recipes and tips in our comments section below this article.

I’ll even start it off with a Fluffy Chix Cook party classic. It’s an oldie but goodie, and not surprisingly – cheese based! Tell me. Aren’t ALL great dips dairy based? (Oh, and I also reserve the right to make a public disclaimer about processed cheeses, especially Velveeta. You shouldn’t eat it. Period. It’s bad stuff, filled with chemicals you can’t pronounce and scary kinds of fat. Please ignore my ginormous Texas recipe for Fluffy Chix Chile con Queso. Unfortunately, we Texans have veins of Velveeta  and Shinola for brains.  Is it any wonder our most famous last words are, “Hey y’all, watch this…” ? Ok, disclaimer over…)

Hey ya'll, watch this!
Hey ya’ll, watch this!

Use your favorite nut crackers, cheese crackers, pork rinds, or low carb tortilla chips with these recipes. Fluffy Chix love serving this queso with veggie dippers such as red bell pepper triangles, celery, jicama, cucumbers, and radishes.

Pork rinds run a mean play option pass, too. But if you have the need for speed and just have to have tortilla chips, we have that covered too. Check out our Low Carb Soy Free Tortillas. Toast them and break into pieces and you have a perfect queso chip. Or try out lower carb Corn Tortillas. Again, toast them and go to town with the cheese dip!

(Special thanks to Dr. Richard Feinman, for his excellent teaching skills and patience! Any errors in the explanation of alcohol metabolism lie strictly with me, a more than chemistry-challenged, “bear of very average brains”. Thanks Dr. F.!)

Fluffy Chix Chile con Queso With Meat

Recipe By:   Susie T. Gibbs
Serving Size:   50 – 1/4 cup servings     Yield: 13 Cups
Preparation Time:  25 Minutes
Cooking Time:   20 Minutes
Start To Finish:   45 Minutes
Difficulty:   Must know enough not to run with knives…

Low carb Chile con Queso with Meat
Low carb Chile con Queso with Meat, a smart tailgating alternative to high carbage nonsense.


For Meat Mixture 
1 pound  ground chuck
4 ounces  onion, chopped fine
4 ounces  green chiles, canned chopped
2 cloves  garlic, peeled and pressed
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup  jalapeno chile pepper, (about 2 large)
1 large  serrano pepper
1 1/2 ounces  poblano pepper, (about 1/2 large pepper)
1/2 cup  cilantro leaves, whole
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup  water

For Queso
2 pounds  American Cheese, white, yellow or a combination (May sub Velveeta – okay already! Fluffy Chix prefer Velveeta. Sheesh!)
1/2 cup  heavy cream
1/2 cup  water
1/2 pound  cheddar cheese
2 ounces  chiles, green, canned chopped
20 ounces  tomatoes with green chilies — 1 hot, 1 original (2 – 10 ounce cans)
2 ounces  pickled jalapeno — diced

Adding cheddar is optional, but highly delicious.
Adding cheddar is optional, but highly delicious. It’s DFSW approved.

Crumble meat into a large sauté pan. Chop onion, jalapenos and garlic and add to meat. Add all other meat mixture ingredients except water. Add green chiles.

Sauté over high heat until meat browns and vegetables are tender. Drain off extra fat, if desired. Return to pan and add water. Simmer meat until liquid is reduced and meat is tender, about 30 minutes.

Now for the queso:

In medium saucepan, add tomatoes, undrained. Cook until liquid reduces by about half. Add the can of green chiles with their juice to the saucepan. Cube Velveeta and add to the tomato mixture. Add water and heavy cream. Cook until cheese has melted and is heated through. Remove from heat and add shredded cheddar cheese a handful at a time. Stir between handfuls to make sure cheese melts. Repeat until all cheddar has been added, melted, and well combined. Add meat mixture.

Transfer queso to a crock pot set to warm. Serve immediately.

SUSIE T’s NOTES :  Rating – Four Forks

Low Carb Chile con Queso with Meat
Low Carb Chile con Queso with Meat served on a pork rind. Delicioso!

This is a family favorite. Every Christmas Chile con Queso is the top requested appetizer for our family dinners. Even though I supply tortilla chips for the carb monkeys in the household, everyone fights over the last pork rind!

It’s a winner. Fluffy Chix sometimes substitute Hot Pork Breakfast Sausage for the hamburger in the meat mixture. A bowl of sliced pickled jalapenos and a bowl of fresh pico de gallo are nice additions.

This dip freezes great! Portion it into 1 cup zip tight or vacuum sealed bags and store flat in the freezer. Take a bag out, defrost quickly in the microwave and serve.

Recipe can be cut in half or doubled easily.

Full Recipe: $13.77
Cost per 1/4c serving: $0.28 each

Serving Options: Combine meat with queso and serve as one dish. You may also keep the meat and queso separate and allow people to add their own meat. This looks prettier, but you run the risk of people using up the ground beef. Or you can split the queso into 2 portions and add the meat to one half and serve the other half meat-free. That’s how Fluffy Chix serve this dip!

Serving Ideas: Serve with pork rinds or vegetable dippers such as red bell pepper, jicama and celery.

Serve with a side of guacamole, pico de gallo, and fresh or pickled sliced jalapenos.

Queso also makes an awesome sauce for veggies and meats. It also can be used  to make quick cheeseburger soup and poblano soup.

Per 1/2 cup serving: 149 Calories; 11g Fat (64.2% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 5.14g Carbohydrate; .24g Dietary Fiber; 38mg Cholesterol; 647mg Sodium; 4.9g Net Carbs

Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 1 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

You Might Also Enjoy These Low Carb Tailgate Foods from Fluffy Chix Cook

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe on low carb Revolutionary Roll
Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe on low carb Revolutionary Roll

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joes

Low Carb Coney Island Dogs with Oven-baked Zucchini Fries and Green Tomatoes
Low Carb Coney Island Dogs with Oven-baked Zucchini Fries and Green Tomatoes are low carb street legal.

Chili Cheese Coney Dogs

Perfect Grilled Steak with Asparagus and Chopped Salad
Perfect Grilled Steak with Asparagus and Chopped Salad

Grilled Steak with Chopped Salad

Low Carb Loaded Broccoli
Low Carb Loaded Broccoli – all of the fun and none of the sin.

Don’t forget the Loaded Broccoli

Armadillo Eggs
Armadillo Eggs – a Texas-sized jalapeno popper with chicken and bacon.

Texas Armadillo Eggs

Low Carb Bacon Cheese and Ranch Crack Bread
Low Carb Bacon Cheese and Ranch Crack Bread – let’s start a revolution!

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Crack Bread

Un-barbequed Pulled Pork Stack with Oven-fried Green Tomatoes and Texas Chile Lime Coleslaw
Un-barbequed Pulled Pork Stack with Oven-fried Green Tomatoes and Texas Chile Lime Coleslaw

Un-Barbequed Pulled Pork

Oven-fried Zuccini Fries with homemade Ranch Dip
Oven-fried Zuccini Fries with homemade Ranch Dip

Oven-fried Zucchini Fries and Mushrooms

Susie Snax #3 – A Sure-fire Fix for the Mean Hungries

Crispy Walnuts with Pear and Blue Cheese

Crispy Walnuts, Pears and Blue Cheese make a great low carb Susie Snax.
Crispy Walnuts, Pears and Blue Cheese make a great low carb Susie Snax.

Recipe By:   Susie T. Gibbs
Serving Size:   1 serving
Preparation Time:  5 Minutes
Cooking Time:   0 Minutes
Start To Finish:   5 Minutes
Difficulty:   Must know how to open the fridge and know where your oven lives.


1/2 ounce Crispy Walnuts (recipe to follow)
1/2 ounce blue cheese
2 ounces pear, cored and sliced thinly (about 1/2 of a small pear)

Grab Crispy Walnuts, cheese and pears and go outside on your patio. Savor slowly with a glass of sparkling water. Relax. Life is good!

For Walnuts:

1 pound walnut halves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
32 ounces filtered water

Soak walnuts in salt water overnight of for a minimum of eight hours. Drain water and rinse walnuts until water runs clear. This will rinse off many of the phytates and natural dyes in the nuts.

Spread nuts onto an unlined cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees for about 3-4 hours. Nuts are done when they become very crispy and totally dry. Alternately, dehydrate nuts for about 6 – 8 hours in a food dehydrator set to the nut setting (about 105 degrees).


Per Susie Snax serving: 167 Calories; 12g Fat; 7g Protein, 10g Carbohydrate; 2g Fiber; 8g Net Carbs

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Spring is a magical season. It feels fresh and new and like rebirth. Spring is filled with possibilities and motivation and a sense of anticipation. In Texas, spring is just a glorious three-day precursor to a miserable nine month extravaganza inside the humid oven we Texans like to lovingly call the Texas Gulf Coast. Join Susie T. Gibbs as she shares her top 10 tips for keeping your Spring meals low carb, light, and satisfying!


  1. Well this beats the heck out of my usual block of cream cheese mixed with picante sauce for a dip! My family thanks you for all these great ideas, but we’ll definitely be eating that queso. It will be “we” but “I” will of course make the queso! 🙂
    Thanks for the information about alcohol, too. That was in a format even I could understand.

  2. DeAnne! Love the idea for cream cheese and picante. Do you mix it together to make a dip or do you pour picante over the cream cheese? I bet it’s delicious with pork rinds and even veggie dippers!

    Ha on the understanding biochem! I’m so sure I still didn’t explain it correctly. I don’t want any inaccuracies to reflect poorly on Dr. Feinman! I just keep wandering around the house muttering, “Feedback loops. Feedback loops. Feedback loops.”

  3. Enjoyed your article…love your writing style. You can even make biochemistry fun! Your recipes look great too. I love Velveeta…I just thought I had to avoid it on low-carb.

    • Hi Heather!

      Thanks so much for giving such great affirmation! Haha on biochem fun. (I’m actually kinda a geek about it. Love it. But don’t understand it well! 😉 )

      So Velveeta…yeah. Remember Texans eat a boatload of it. We’re raised on it. Right next to Hellman’s. Here are the ingredients in it according to Livestrong. There’s nothing really “BAD” in it per se. But it’s highly processed and the full fat version has about 2g carbs per ounce which is almost twice as high as regular cheeses. So I think it depends on how much of a purist you seak to be in order to answer whether or not you should eat it.

      There are preservatives in it and whey protein concentrates which some eschew. Ahem, I eat it. I confess it. Then I eat it again. 😀 Unlike my beloved Hellman’s which has soybean oil as the first listed ingredients. I had to break up with Hellman’s permanently because of their bad oils. :
      Original Velveeta is made from several milk products, including whole milk, milk protein concentrate and whey protein concentrate. It also has buttermilk solids as well as cheese culture, milk fat and lactose. The product also contains sodium, in the form of salt, sodium alginate and sodium citrate as well as sodium phosphate. Other ingredients include calcium phosphate, sorbic and lactic acids, and vitamin A. The manufacturers also added apocarotenal and annatto as coloring agents. Other flavors have similar ingredients with a few minor additions. For example, the Mexican and pepper Jack flavors both have jalapeno peppers and vinegar. The 2 percent skim has part-skim milk in addition to skim milk, corn syrup and maltodextrin.

      Again, thanks for readin’ and hope you tell all your friends about us over here and visit often. I LURVE comments!!!! 😀

      • Susie, what do you do for mayonnaise? I have low-carb olive oil recipes but they don’t taste as good as Hellman’s, which I know has sugar in addition to soy oil…

        Looking for delicious alternatives to making my own. I know it’s easy but just don’t want to do it.

  4. Well, here you are! 🙂 Great job Susie, and excellent recipes. I agree about most dips being dairy based, except for guacamole!!

  5. I’m so very thankful for your blog and loved this article. My son and I are on a low carb journey due to pre-diabetes diagnosis. I am 47 and he is 13. So far we have each lost 35 lbs and counting. I am halfway towards my 80 lb weightloss goal and my son is ten pounds away from his. The change in him is amazing. I’m always searching for fun food for his lunch box and the footballs caught my eye in this article. I didn’t see a recipe for this photo, and was wondering if you could share it with me. I’m sending a prayer for your breast cancer recovery. Breast cancer has also touched our immediate family and your courage and sharing is inspiring. Thank you again, Liane

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