Lunch is a meal a lot of people on the paleo diet have issues with because it can be tough to eat on the run. Most fast food is out, and easy stuff like sandwiches loose their convenience when you take away the bread. I do a fair bit of business development for my job, so I often find myself entertaining clients for lunch. In those instances, I mostly get to pick the restaurant, so I pick places that are friendly to my diet. Most days I bring leftovers, and usually I make a grocery store run to stock up on fresh fruit, nuts, cheese, and avocados. One day I didn’t have any leftovers or business lunches and on the way to the grocery store I saw a little place called Pappa Geno’s Philly Cheesesteaks. A Philly Cheesesteak just sounded too good to pass up, so I pulled in.
Cheating on paleo can still be low carb
So technically Philly Cheesesteaks are not paleo. First there is the cheese. People strictly sticking to the paleo diet, won’t eat dairy because it is overly processed. I went the paleo route to keep my blood sugar under control, and cheese is low in carbs and sugar, so I have never stopped eating cheese. Besides, no cheese would be really hard for me. I love me some cheese. Depending on who you talk to, Philly cheese steaks are not authentic unless you use Cheese Whiz. I just said I’ll eat cheese even though it is overly processed, but I won’t go as far a Cheese Whiz. There’s processed and then there is PROCESSED, and Cheese Whiz falls firmly into the PROCESSED category. The ingredients are mysterious at best, but according to Foodfacts.com Cheese Whiz has 29 ingredients. Never trust cheese that comes out of a can or jar people. Always go with the other go to cheese for Philly cheesesteaks—provolone
The other thing to lookout for in Philly Cheese Steaks is that usually the meat is grilled in Worcestershire sauce. That is another overly processed ingredient. These worst ingredient being the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup. This is something I try to stay away from. The negative effects of high-fructose corn syrup are well documented, so I won’t rehash them here. Worcestershire sauce is very complicated sauce with lots of ingredients though, and having a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce is not anything like drinking a soda or so many of the other processed foods that use high-fructose as their main ingredient. You would have to drink the whole bottle of Worcestershire (yuck!) and it still wouldn’t have as much high-fructose corn syrup as half a Coke. So being that I was in a mood for Philly Cheese Steaks, I made the exception this time.
The Pappa Geno’s Experience
I work in the Heights, so the Papa Geno’s location I stumbled on was on Ella blvd. The outside had a real hole-in-the-wall feel, but inside the restaurant was bright and clean. They have booths and tables or you can eat at the bar where you order. I opted to eat at the bar since I was by myself. The Pappa Geno’s menu is pretty extensive with over 13 different Philly cheesesteaks to choose from, plus hoagies, burgers, and chicken fingers. The staff was friendly and helpful. When I was ordering, I was going to keep it simple and go for a classic Philly Cheese steak, hold the bread and fries, but the lady taking my order suggested I try the Philly Works with sliced seasoned steak, grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, green bell peppers, and provolone cheese. The logic being that it would be a bit more satisfying with the extra ingredients. I have to say she was right.
They served my meal on a plate with the melted cheese on top. It’s a little weird eating a Philly cheesesteak with a knife and fork, but still really tasty. I was glad to have the onions, peppers, and mushrooms. They added lots of flavor and texture to the meal, and made it more filling as well.
Philly Cheesesteaks are a cheat for the paleo diet, but they are still a very tasty low-carb meal if you avoid the bread and french fries. Pappa Geno’s does a great job. I may have a new favorite Philly cheesesteak place. Next time I have a craving for a Philly cheesesteak, I’m going for the Wicked Philly with grilled onions, and Italian hot oil peppers.