Sometimes I feel like my kids are missing out. They get sick of my healthy eating ways and they’d like to throw caution to the wind and EAT OUT. My goodness, I’m such a stick in the mud when it comes to this.
I get my fill of restaurant food when I travel so I’m all about eating at home whenever I can. I can’t say I’m the best cook either, so my kids miss out on two fronts: no fast food/restaurant food and no super great home cooked meals.
Wow, I think this just may qualify as child abuse…
So in the spirit of better parenting, I thought I’d share with you the choices that I’d make when I do manage to hit a restaurant. It may seem to me that the choices I make are obvious, but you may find a healthy choice in here that will appeal to you. You’ll notice that my choices aren’t always the ‘fun’ ones, that is, nutritional density is pretty much the common denominator.
I eat very much for function over flavor for the majority of my meals. The reason is simply because I feel best this way. Don’t get me wrong, I like to enjoy good food as much as anyone, but I think I’d have to say I like feeling energized and fitting in my jeans better than the taste of any food in particular.
Granted, this is an acquired taste, but it works for me.
In the last year I’ve given up beef, chicken and turkey, so I have some pretty limited choices. Although I’d prefer to eat at home there are times when choices have to be made in a variety of restaurant settings so here are my ‘go to’ choices.
Japanese/Sushi – This is my favorite choice for dining, but I still follow some basic ‘rules’ for healthy eating. Here are some of my favorites:
Salmon and Avocado Roll (nori, rice, salmon, avocado)
California Roll (nori, rice, avocado, kani/crab) I like to sub in spicy tuna instead of crab here
Tuna (maguro) Roll (nori, rice, tuna)
Spicy Tuna Roll (nori, rice, tuna, 1⁄2 tsp mayo, hot pepper)
Sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish) Choose 4-5 pieces with a side of brown rice
I love edamame as they are full of protein and fiber.
I ask for low sodium soy sauce.
I avoid anything fried or ‘tempura’, noodles or teriyaki.
I try to eat with chop sticks as this really slows me down and I don’t over eat (even if I have to do laundry since food falls off in my lap!)
This isn’t a flavor favorite for me, but if I find myself in an Italian restaurant, here’s what I’d order:
If I order pasta, I’ll order it with tomato sauce versus a cream based sauce and I’ll ask to have half the order packaged to go. This way I’m not tempted to overeat.
I’d prefer to go for a grilled piece of fish with a ton of veggies or a salad such as a Portabella Alla Caprese which is slices of grilled tomatoes with grilled portabella mushrooms and fresh mozzarella with baby field greens in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
Many Italian restaurants offer vegetable sides or an antipasti plate. I ask for an antipasti plate of grilled vegetables, with a side of shrimp, fish or even chicken for protein.
It’s a little harder to order Chinese and stay clean. Here are a few choices:
Chop Suey -Stir-fried mixed vegetables with chicken/shrimp/tofu (Chop Suey should come without fried noodles) S
autéed chicken/shrimp/tofu with vegetables
Moo goo gai pan – Light brown chicken broth-based soy sauce with vegetables with chicken/shrimp/tofu
I try to stay away from the ginger beef, noodle dishes, fried rice, fried dumplings etc. and I always ask if dishes can be made without MSG.
First off, avoid the tortilla chips and salsa! A small order can run up to 400 calories even before the meal begins.
I try to order fish tacos on corn tortillas as opposed to a flour tortilla. Chicken is more diet friendly than beef or pork (although I prefer the fish).
Make it yourself fajitas are a good choice too as I can load up on veggies and skip the tortilla all together.
As a side I prefer black beans to refined beans.
I try to avoid heavy cheeses, anything fried, sour cream and guacamole (a little guacamole is okay, but who can have just a little of this stuff??).
North American Food
I almost always order a salad when I’m out. I love experimenting with a restaurant salad so I can get new flavor ideas for home. I automatically order dressing on the side and avoid croutons, fried noodles, bacon and limit cheese in a salad – a little goes a long way.
Onto my fav ‘fast food’ choices:
Starbucks – Yep, I’m a Starbucks convert. It used to be that this wouldn’t even cross my mind, but when I travel, this is one place I’m always on the look out for. My choices here:
Egg white spinach wrap
Oatmeal with a scoop of protein
Pita Pit – Here’s I’ll load up a pita with tuna and all the veggies that fit .
Subway – The tuna here is too loaded with mayo for my liking, so I may resort to a roasted chicken sub with all the veggies that will fit.
Water, water and more water. Did I say water? I don’t drink my calories. I may have a glass of wine on a special occasion or if I’m really whooping it up, I’ll have a vodka cranberry or a gin and club soda.
You can order dessert at a restaurant? Really? Ha! I’ve never done that…
But if I did, it would be a fruit sorbet, fruit salad or fruity something or other and I’d try to share it with someone.
See what I mean about my being NO FUN when it comes to dining out?
I know I know, these are not the most exciting of dishes, but with the travel I do, I don’t want to feel lethargic and bloated after every meal.
On occasion I do throw in the towel and order something completely off these lists, but not often. My tastes are sort of acquired over years of clean eating and know what I need to do to feel my best. It’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a splurge meal once in a while when you go out. If you don’t go out often especially, make your meal special, order what you want and just watch your portions.
Hey, what strategies do you have to help with the dining out situation? Please share them so we can all benefit!