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Cover of Mexican food cookbook
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Having your carnitas and eating it too

The two things I remember most about my first trips to Baja in the early to mid ’60s are the waves and the food.

These were weekend adventures in my friend Dave’s ’54 Ford wagon that he paid 100 bucks for, a bargain even with four bald tires and no spare. 

Without knowing exactly where we were going, we drove until the gas gauge registered half a tank and pulled over to sleep on the beach or the side of the road for the night.

More weekends than not we feasted on the point waves of San Miguel, Stacks, 3-Ms, or K-38 before mowing down meals consisting of either carne asada, fish tacos or whole lobster.

If memory serves, the price of even the best meal was about two American bucks.

Considering gas was less than 30 cents a gallon at the time and that we paid nothing for lodging, our luxury Baja vacation cost less than five bucks a day, or roughly the cost of a gallon of gas in our time.

On one trip we got hooked into carnitas, those finger-sized shredded pork tacos that we consumed by the dozen.

After putting down a plateful of carnitas each, we surfed hard for a few hours, before returning to repeat our order.

It was then the chef pulled a pig’s head, its watery eyes staring, listening with hairy ears, from beneath the counter and began carving.

We converted temporarily to vegetarianism, ate and drove home stuffed and stoked.

As is the case for most surfers raised in Southern California, Mexican food has been a staple for me. I never tire of its rich, diverse and spicy flavors and I generally walk away from the table satisfied.

I now realize, however, that not all Mexican food is created equal and that much of it is laced with sugar and table salt and is transported to the gut via white flour.

To eat or not to eat was the question that I chose to answer in the affirmative, trying to ignore health concerns between bites.

Being a lifelong surfer, traveler and integrative holistic nutritionist, wellness consultant, recipe creator and founder of The Vida Well, Torie Borrelli Hall drew on her Mexican/Italian roots and solved the taste/health dilemma, combining tradition, her own recipes and her extensive knowledge of nutrition to create the book I just gave myself for Christmas, “The Mexican Keto Cookbook.”

While I have not yet made any of the meals in the book, I know simply by the photos (pardon my watering mouth) that taste is not sacrificed (and often enhanced) in the making.

Keto is a high-fat, low-carb method of eating that has yielded amazing results in many of its users, including Torie herself who once suffered from a variety of ailments that have cleared up since she changed her ways.

Torie is married to famed surfboard shaper Josh Hall. They split their time between their home in San Diego and the Borrelli family home in Baja. “The Mexican Keto Cookbook” can be purchased through Surf Ride and other fine surf shops in our area.

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