- Fact: I love meal prep because it saves me time, energy, and money and supports my nutrition goals.
- Fact: A healthy lifestyle is defined by total wellness, including, but not limited to, physical, emotional, and social wellbeing.
How do these two very true facts relate? Sit back and relax gals, I got a good one for ya.
I love stackin’ Tupperware like dolla bills as much as the next fit-chick, but sometimes life calls for a meal away from the comfort of your kitchen. Whether you’re nurturing a relationship with a friend or significant other, celebrating a milestone, or just simply practicing leisure time, there are so many benefits to restaurant-centric plans (yes, including not washing the dishes ;)). I have come to love (like really, I feel genuinely excited and proud) finding menu items that meet my dietary preferences – it’s so rewarding to apply my ever expanding nutrition knowledge and reinforce my ability to make consistent, healthy choices. Before we begin, listen up for an important message: if ever the prospect of dining-out breeds feelings of anxiety, take a step back (this is not a positive or healthy association with food). Alright – forks up, babes! It’s time to dig in.
Don’t be this meme. When bae asks you what you want to eat, remember the importance of total wellness, and order with confidence using these tips!
- Peep the Plates. Prior to sitting down at the table, I always find out where the ressies have been made so that I can form a plan and focus on being present with my pals instead of scouring the menu options.
- Choose Your Indulgence. Eating out should be a relaxing, fun, and celebratory social experience, so don’t be afraid to #treatyoself on occasion. Practice balance by choosing one indulgent moment during your meal – whether it’s goat cheese in a salad (“Yes please!” -me), a piece of bread for an app, or a glass of wine to wash down your main.
- Make Mods. With all due respect to chefs and their culinary art, a menu is not set in stone, and you (as the paying customer) have every right to feed your body whatever you so choose. Sorry for the sass, but don’t be afraid to ask for dishes sans undesired ingredients.
- Swap Sides. French fries, onion rings, and chips need not make their way onto your plate. Sub out starchy, greasy options for grilled or steamed veggies or a fresh side salad for an easy way to keep your meal lean, clean, and green.
- Hold The Dressing. Don’t drown your fresh eats in artificial sauces and spreads. Instead, ask for dressings on the side so you can decide if they work with your preferences (my rule of thumb is if it’s creamy, stay away from it entirely).
Omelet you finish… But brunch is the best meal of all time. Too much? Omelet that slide 😉 Okay, I’m really done now. Brunchin’ with galpals is a social staple, and you bet your booty you can RSVP, “HELL YES!” When navigating a brunch menu, I always look for a make-your-own omelet option. You all know I love eggs as a nutrient-dense form of protein that will keep you full long after the bill is paid. Fill ‘er up with unlimited veggies, but hold the cheese! (Restaurant-prepped omelets are often tossed in butter or oil, so I like to keep my fillings as lean n’ green as possible.) Tip: Swap Sides! Opt for greens or fresh fruit instead of crispy potatoes, and you’ve got a complete meal.
There’s no better time to dive into a big ol’ bowl of leafy greens than when the mid-day hunger hits. Most restaurants feature several salad options on their menu, and, although often overpriced (*jaded from Meal Prep*), I absolutely love splurging on a big bed of lettuce packed with goods I don’t typically keep in my pantry. Gimme all the toppings – nuts, dried fruits, and seeds galore! Make sure that your salad of choice features some sustaining protein! If it doesn’t, just ask your server to top it off with grilled chicken or fish (tofu or chickpeas for my veg-girls). Tip: Hold The Dressing! Don’t fall into salad sabotage with a creamy, sugary, sodium-packed dressing. Instead, ask for balsamic vinegar and a fresh lemon squeeze!
For the perfectly-portioned plate, direct your eyes to protein-based (are you seeing a theme yet?) dishes on the menu, usually listed as “Entrees,” “Plates,” or “Mains.” These options are typically comprised of a protein and veggie (and sometimes a starch). Seafood options like salmon, trout, or scallops, or even a lean grassfed filet, are my favorite because it’s something I don’t often cook for myself! Tip: Apply the Choose Your Indulgence and Swap Sides tips at dinner time! If you #treatyoself to a piece of fresh bread, ask for double veggies with your main. As always, don’t be afraid to Make Mods!
Burgers: If the gang is craving burgers and beer, you’re in luck! Look for a turkey burger on the menu for a lean, tasty treat. Forego the bun and swap your fries for a side salad. Or, for a #treatyoself moment, indulge in sweet potato fries! Beware of the health halo effect shining around restaurant-prepped veggie burgers, they are often loaded with processed fillings and fried to maintain their shape – you’re better off going full carnivore here.
Sushi: Forget frying your veggies in tempura, and kick off your meal with an appetizer of steamed seasonal veggies or protein-packed edamame instead! When it comes to your rolls, request they come wrapped in brown rice (other lean, clean, and green options are cucumber wrapped rolls and sashimi – but when I treat myself to sushi, I opt for the rice). Stay clear of spicy sauces that use mayo-based ingredients, and go for options where the fresh ingredients shine. My go-to order: 1 Alaskan Roll, 1 King Crab Cali Roll, and 1 side of edamame or steamed veggies.
Mexican: Yes, I know guac is extra – and you best believe I want it! 😉 In my LBF days, Mexican was my absolute favorite comfort food. (I
was am a real sucker for melted cheese.) Luckily, I have since found new ways to enjoy Mexican that don’t cause my pants to unbutton at the table (true story): fajitas. Set the tortillas aside and eat your fajita fillings like a platter for a protein and veggie combo that cures all cravings. Letsbehonest, tortillas are not the star of the show – the real flavor is in the filling! Top with some guac and salsa but say no thank you to cheese, sour cream, and chips to keep it lean, clean, and green.
Ice Cream: Skip the creamery and cone and gather the gang for froyo! I love to fill a bowl (to the brim, TBH) with classic tart flavor (look for no-sugar added flavors) and top with fresh fruit, dark chocolate chips, and raw nuts. Leave sugary pastries, candies, and cereals behind – you won’t miss them with this sweet treat! Don’t forget a honey or peanut butter drizzle 😉