Starnes' Blog Day 5: Barbecue Ribs and the House Wine of the South

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. He made the cow for cheeseburgers, the chicken for the Baptists, and the pig for barbecuing. And boy, was it good!

I love barbecue. There’s nothing better than sitting down to a pile of smoked pork ribs, along with a mess of potato salad, sour pickles and barbecue baked beans. And to round out the meal, you’ve got to wash it down with a mason jar full of the house wine of the south —- sweet iced tea. Friends, that’s some good eatin'.

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It’s my personal mission in life to one day judge barbecue competitions and I’m always anxious to hear about great American barbecue joints. There’s a fine ‘cue joint in the Big Apple. It’s called RUB — Righteous Urban Barbecue —- billed as the best butts in town! And if you have a favorite, you should drop me a line. I’ll be glad to add it to my list.

Before we go any further, I'd like to share with you, "Todd’s Barbecue Primer." Barbecue is pig. It's in the Bible somewhere, I think. If you invite someone over to your house for barbecue, there’d better be a piece of pork somewhere on the table. Burgers and hot dogs do not constitute a barbecue.

And since I’ve got a good number of readers from the Lone Star State, I’ll avoid the raging debate over beef vs. pig barbecue. But I do want to tell you about a Texas barbecue joint that opened here in New York. It’s called The Hill Country. The food is excellent —- but the iced tea —- well, that’s another story. I’m a big tea drinker. When I got my bill, I noticed my bar tab was $12. The iced tea was four bucks a glass! And the refills were not free. Sweet Mercy!

So, few weeks ago, I was in Memphis for Elvis Week. I stopped by one of my favorite rib joints — Rendevouz. It just doesn’t get much better than their dry rub. I ordered a full rack of ribs. The waiter also took my drink order. "Do you have any sweet tea," I asked. The waiter peered from under his glasses and shot back. "Son, this is the south. That’s the only kind of tea we serve. Where you from —- New York City?"

I laughed and told him about the $4 glass of iced tea back in New York City. He was stunned. "Shut yo mouth. You pullin’ my leg?" I assured him I was not. Within minutes, he had summoned a good portion of the restaurant staff to my table where I held court and regaled them with my tale of the $4 glass of unsweetened iced tea. The manager of Rendevouz felt so sorry for me, he paid for my meal and informed me that FedEx will gladly deliver Rendevouz ribs to the Big Apple. Who knew? Pigs really can fly.

All this to say, just because you are going on a diet, doesn’t mean that you need to stop eating the food you love. It’s all about moderation. Let’s be sensible, folks. A person can only handle so much cottage cheese and celery sticks (unless, of course, you smear on a dollop of pimento cheese).

Let’s break it down —- your body is a lot like a car —- it needs fuel to work. If you fill up your car with cheap gas, there’s a pretty good chance you will end up on the back of a tow truck. Likewise, if you constantly stuff your face with unhealthy food, your body will not perform at peak performance levels. And if you eat too much, chili —- well your engine might very well backfire.

So, friends, a few more ideas on helping you lose some of those unwanted pounds:

1. Stay away from restaurants that serve all-you-can-eat buffets. My good buddy Morris and I were on assignment in Biloxi, Miss. We stopped at a Chinese restaurant with a buffet longer than the wall of China. By the time we were made our third pass through —- the owner cut off the unlimited flow of poo poo platter. "No more food for you," he said. "You have enough." The last time I passed through Biloxi, the all-you-can-eat buffet was gone. When you eat out, order off the menu. Skip the appetizer and ask the server if they offer smaller portions.

2. Stop drinking sugary soft drinks. This was really hard for me. Most southern kids were nursed on Coca Cola. I love the stuff —- but soda can really add on the pounds. I’ve switched to Diet Coke and I’ve also added lots of fruit juices. One of my favorites is cranberry juice. It’s heart-healthy. Still trying to get my taste buds to adjust to pomegranate juice. It’s hard to drink something that comes off a shrub.

3. Have a meat-free day. I know this is heresy for a Southern boy, but give it a shot. I eat a lot of vegetables and plenty of salads. It’s healthy and filling. By the way, whoever came up with the idea of fat-free Ranch salad dressing needs to be deported to Canada. Guys, I’m proud to say that I’ve lost all my weight by eating REAL Ranch salad dressing on my veggies. Just be sure you have some vegetables with your salad dressing!

4. Avoid elevators. If you have the chance, take the stairs. The added exercise is good for you. Look for ways to add walking into your routine. When you go to the supermarket, park as far away from the store as possible. Many schools have running tracks. Drop by after work and get a few laps in. And while you’re at it, try doing some stadiums (walking up and down the bleachers).

5. Get rid of your old clothes. When I started this campaign, I was a size 54 waist. Today, I wear a 36 waist. Every four waist sizes, I had to buy new pants. Just to make sure the temptation wasn’t there, I gave away my old clothes to the Salvation Army. It’s total commitment. Never look back —- always look ahead. I’m looking forward to getting rid of those size 36 pants in a few weeks.

Starting Monday, it’s Marathon countdown day. I’ve got lots of crazy stories to share as I gear up for next Sunday’s big race. I hope you will join me and keep those emails coming! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hearing from you.

Todd Starnes is a network news anchor for Fox News Radio. He can be reached at Look for Todd's next blog Monday afternoon.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow him on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.