Happy Friday chickadees! I'm so glad it is the weekend! I have tomorrow off so I'm planning on going to the gym at the crack of dawn. Then I am getting my hair color touched up (yeah ginge!!) and after I'm going to babysit my niece with my mom :) It'll be a great day for sure! Then I have to work on Sunday.
So, a week or two before MoFo the lovely Maud of Food Feud suggested I write a post about how I order when I order in or dine at restaurants. I thought that was a great idea. I can't imagine that any of these tips are going to be groundbreaking or new, but here is how I order from a restaurant to try and get tasty/healthy meals that I don't have to cook! I'll break it down by types of cuisine.
Mexican: My main staples in eating mexican food are rice, beans, veggies and avocado. The rice and beans combine to form a complete protein, the veggies are ideally fresh and vibrant and avocado is a healthy fat. The combination is not only delicious but it is a nutritional powerhouse and provides a really nice balance.
When I'm ordering from a local restaurant (read: not a chain) and feel like eating something a little bit lighter I'll go for a salad with some grilled veggies. I topped this salad with seitan when I was not eating Gluten Free but now I top it with black beans for a protein boost.
These are both burrito bowls filled with rice, beans, veggies (on top), pico de gallo (on bottom), and guacamole (added to the top after the pic was taken). They are filling and provide a nice balanced meal that I never feel guilty about. I also have found that by leaving off the ginormous tortilla I don't end the meal feeling uncomfortably full...instead I'm satisfied but can still move.
Mediterranean: Mediterranean food is really easy. The mediterranean diet is supposed to be one of the healthiest diets in the world so you really can't go wrong when ordering a mediterranean meal. They make amazing fresh salads, healthy dips (hello hummus! and babaghanoush), and falafel. Granted when you order falafel from a restaurant it is typically fried so I'll limit how much of it I'll eat and I always pair it with a salad.
Which is exactly what I did here. There is a nice mediterranean salad with lettuce, cucumber and tomato dressed simply in a tiny but of olive oil and vinegar. I ate one falafel patty at a time and it was satisfying and delicious. It is also fun to order a tasting platter of dips with fresh veggies to dip. I try to avoid bread not only because I eat gf but I find that it fills you up so much and I'd rather eat all that good stuff than bread...which says a lot because I love bread!
Japanese: It is also really easy to order healthy food in a japanese restaurant. I always start with miso soup (check for bonito!). That is one tip that goes for any restaurant really, start with a brothy or tomato/veggie soup and it'll fill you up for not a lot of calories. Then you don't feel obligated to finish your meal which will inevitably be 2-3 servings. Then you get multiple meals out of each order!
I ordered miso soup and a mixed veggie roll with brown rice. Brown rice is always the preferred option when I order and most places allow the substitution. I've even gone to a few places that will make veggie rolls with no rice which is great if I'm going for dinner and am trying not to eat grains after 3pm. If you are like me and love edamame that is also a great item to order!
Chinese: Chinese food can be difficult. It is almost always fried in a ton of oil and topped with greasy sauces and comes with noodles and possibly MSG and all other kinds of craziness. There is a way to power through and it is actually quite easy.
Most chinese menus have a "special diet" section. That is code for steamed. That is the only section I order from nowadays. Trust me, I used to enjoy a nice meal of greasy chinese food but now I feel like I ate a brick and uncomfortable when I order from the regular menu. Don't be afraid to mix and match items too! I usually go for steamed tofu and broccoli and add in some eggplant. Sauces always come on the side so you control how much you put on there. I usually drizzle 1-2 tablespoons over the top of it. I always get steamed brown rice on the side as well. I actually ask them to go a size up from whatever comes with the meal so I can get a few meals out of it. Lazy but it works ;)
Italian: I rarely eat Italian food in a restaurant and it is even more rare for me to order it in. The most obvious solution for going to an Italian restaurant is pasta but since I don't eat wheat pasta anymore it has made it that much more difficult to order. I would typically order a salad with some grilled veggies but then I got smart. Assuming the red sauce has no cheese I will order a plate of steamed or grilled veggies topped with sauce. Then it is like I'm eating the best parts of a plate of pasta primavera and you don't have to worry about being weighed down from the pile of pasta.
On another note...when I am at a Vegan restaurant I order whatever I want. If it looks good it is going in my belly because it is very rare that I can order anything off of the menu. I think that on the rare occasion I can order anything I'm not going to limit myself to what might be the healthiest option. Granted I am always looking for a lighter meal, but I will be more inclined to splurge in this instance.
So that is pretty much it! I hope it all makes sense and sorry if it is redundant from everything you always hear about ordering in a restaurant but I figured I would just share my thought process :) let me know if I missed any sort of cuisine that you are interested in!!