Health January 15, 2009

Local Buzz: Low-carb craze

It seems that, like so many Americans, a growing number of Valley residents are eschewing carbohydrates in an effort to shed pounds. Since January, says Judy Demetre of Iconoclast Books in Ketchum, copies of two low-carb diet books, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution and The South Beach Diet, have been flying off the shelves. And, to cater to these anti-pasta appetites, several local restaurants have introduced new low-carbohydrate menus and specials.

Earlier this year, when Smoky Mountain Pizza and Pasta in Ketchum and Hailey displayed big banners heralding their new low-carb menu options, many passersby took notice. “With the Atkins and South Beach diets being so popular, we saw a demand for [carb-controlled cuisine] and decided to fill the niche,” says Hailey restaurant manager Aaron McCarver. Smoky’s special menu includes grilled pork roast and herb-roasted chicken, each served with roasted vegetables, as well as “The Carbnomore” Chicken Dijon Pizza, made with a low-carbohydrate crust.

Eric Hansen, owner of Viva Taqueria in Hailey, decided to launch his low-carb menu after watching a segment on the Food Network. “I saw a trend story about a Mexican restaurant in California that had added a pure-protein category,” he explains. “A lot of our customers had been asking for salads without rice, beans and chips, or for carnitas with only meat, salsa, and lettuce. So I thought, ‘Why not?’” On Viva’s new bill of fare are a tequila chicken breast, chile beef kabobs, fish of the day, and pork chops, all served with polenta and fresh South-of-the-Border vegetables. “It’s been really successful,” Hansen adds. “Our tequila chicken breast is now one of our top sellers.”

While Esta Restaurant doesn’t have a designated low-carbohydrate menu, the Ketchum eatery has reason to advertise itself as an Atkins, Zone, and South Beach-friendly spot. Sure enough, many menu items—such as blackened or grilled fish served over field greens with fruit salsa, and Esta’s Chop Salad with turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, and sunflower seeds—would have made Dr. Atkins proud. If you aren’t in a salad mood, adds manager Callie Rasberry, Esta’s sandwiches, including the Pastrami and the Turkey Reuben, can be made on high-protein bread. All you have to do is ask.

Similarly, all of the sandwiches at Johnny G’s Sub Shack in Ketchum can now be ordered on a special low-carb, whole-wheat wrap. For carbohydrate-conscious patrons, there also are lettuce bowls and “superscooped” sandwiches (the inside of Johnny’s traditional hoagie roll is scooped out, so you get all the fixings without as much bread). “The wrap sandwiches have taken off like crazy,” says co-owner Gretchen Gorham. “I’d say about 20 percent of what we sell these days is in the low-carb category.”

If you’re in Hailey and in need of a quick low-carbohydrate fix, you can always hit Subway®. The sandwich chain recently added two new Atkins-approved wraps, a Turkey and Bacon Melt and a Chicken Bacon Ranch, to its sandwich list.


This article appears in the Summer 2004 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.