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Healthy Eating Out Guide

One of my close friends has begun her journey to healthy eating and has been having trouble finding time to cook. As a trained chef, she is simply burned out by the time she gets home and has no desire to make her own food. As a result, she has become a victim of eating out. So if you are like her, and want to eat healthy but have to eat out, here is the best healthy eating out guide.

When you eat out there are so many tempting choices, unhealthy ingredients and cooking methods that it is often hard to find a truly healthy meal. Not to mention, most restaurants use processed ingredients that contain many hidden toxins, GMO (corn and grains) and flavorings, that even a seemingly healthy meal may not be. That is why it is so important to learn how to look at a menu in order to find the REAL health food options. That is why I made this healthy eating out guide. While making your own food is always going to be the best choice, life gets in the way and therefore this will help you roll with the punches.

Disclaimer: Most restaurants heat their food too high, use toxic oils like canola, soy and vegetable oil, and hide unhealthy ingredients in even the most healthy of food choices. Therefore, I will show you the best of the not-so- best options, but please always choose the cleanest restaurants available, that promote organic, farm to table cuisine in order to increase your chances of enjoying a truly healthy meal.

 

Farm to Table

Healthy Eating Out Guide

The Basics

1. Get Creative – Restaurants are usually very accommodating. Just have the guts to ask! Combine side dishes and appetizers to make a healthy meal or ask them what they might be able to put together for you.

2. When in Doubt, Follow the Basics of a Healthy Meal –  Fresh vegetables, healthy protein (unheated nuts, seeds, beans, tempeh), good fat (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, olives, nuts/seeds), and a healthy carb/Starch (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, soba noodle).

3. Share – The hardest thing about eating out is overeating. Therefore, don’t put yourself in that situation and ask to share. Otherwise, take half to go. Think about it as setting yourself up for a delicious second meal, while saving money. Win, Win.

 

Image by lunchboxbunch.com

 

American

Soup: Vegetable Broth Based, Non-Dairy (no creamy soups) filled with vegetables, beans and grains (rice)

Salad: Real Vegetables, excluding dairy and meat. Focus on fresh produce such as tomatoes, cucumber, mushroom, sprouts, beets and pepper. Use a base of dark greens such as arugula, mixed greens, kale and spinach. Get protein from seeds, raw (not candied) nuts, and beans. Try to add a healthy grain like brown rice or quinoa or filling root vegetables like butternut squash, yams and sweet potato. Add healthy fats such as avocado and olives

Just Say “No Thanks”:croutons, candied nuts, meat, wontons, tortilla chips and cheese

Salad Dressing: Stick to dressing on the side. Always order the ones made with olive oil, not with mayonnaise or other creamy choices (thousand island, ranch..)

Extras: Look to fresh fruit, bean salad or side salad

Just Say “No Thanks”: creamy pasta, potato or coleslaw salad and chips

Sandwiches: While all the bread and wrap options are not going to be the best choice, if you can find a local place that makes their bread fresh or tortilla (not subway), then this might be okay. I would always look for making your own sandwich/wrap with grilled vegetables, salsas, hummus, olives, fresh greens, and guacamole

Side Dishes and Appetizers: These are great ways to combine and make your own meal. Great options are: Sautéed vegetables such as Brussels Sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms and artichoke. Baked potato or sweet potato. Grain Dishes: Polenta, brown rice, quinoa, and faro. Bean Dishes: Garbanzo Beans, black beans, lentils, and lima beans.

Burgers: Open-faced veggie burgers are always a great option. I love to just choose a salad and then ask for the veggie burger patty right on top

 

Diner by Gary Burke.

 

Thai

Soup: Coconut Soup (Tom Kha) or Traditional Tom Yum

Salad: Glass Noodle Salad, Green Salad, Papaya Salad

Main: Vegetable Curry, Vegetable Fried Rice, Pad Sen Mee (rice noodles and vegetables)

Just Say “No Thanks”: Fried dishes (crispy noodles, tempura), and heavily sauced dishes. Always opt to share curry dishes as they are very rich and high in calories

 

Thailand by doug88888

 

Italian

Soup: Vegetable Minestrone, Tomato Soup (non-dairy, non-creamy)

Appetizer: Bruschetta (I just don’t eat the bread), sautéed portabella mushrooms, steamed artichoke

Salads: Usually some great choices with beets, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, roasted peppers, and pine nuts

Pasta: Pasta is almost always made from refined flour and is therefore not a good choice. If it is the only thing on the menu, then get the Primavera where you can eat all of the vegetables from the dish. Also ask if they have any gluten-free options as well. Make sure to have them put it in a tomato-based sauce, no cream-based sauces

Other: Sometimes Italian restaurants have great grilled vegetable plates or polenta dishes, which are always great options

Just Say “No Thanks”: Cream sauces, cheesy toppings, white pasta and white bread

 

Italian Market

 

Japanese

Starters: Miso Soup, Cucumber Salad

Sushi: Vegetable Sushi and Handrolls

Other: Vegetable Noodle Bowls, Eggplant Dishes, and Vegetable Rice Dishes

Just Say “No Thanks”: Spicy sauce and “special sauce” which are mayo-based sauces and cream cheese. Also stay away from tempura

 

Cherry Blossom Temple by i.shoot.film

 

Indian

Soup: Lentil Soup, Multigatawny Soup

Entrees: Vegetable Coconut Curry, Mirch Masala (Jalapeno, Garlic, Tomato), Vindaloo (Bell Pepper, Tomato, Chutney), Channa Sag (Chickpea and Spinach), Channa Masala (Chickpea and Ginger), Allo Ghobi (Cauliflower and Potato Curry), Bengan Bartha (Roasted Eggplant)

Rice Dishes: Basmati Rice with Vegetables

Just Say “No Thanks”: Fried Foods (samosas, pakoras), Paneer (cheese). Make sure to always share dishes because they are quite rich and high in calories. The spicier, the better, as this increases your metabolism and keeps you from over-eating

 

Image of Ghat by the Ganges, Varanasi

 

Mediterranean (Greek)

Starters: Tabbouleh, Baba ghanoush, Hummus, Dolmades, Olives, Greek Salad (no feta), Lentil Soup, Fasolada Soup

Entrees: Vegetable Mousaka, Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers, Vegetable Kabob, Cabbage Rolls, Chickpea Salads, Briam (ratatouille)

Other: Roasted Peppers, Orzo, Rice Pilaf, Roasted Potato, Fava Beans, Cous Cous

Just Say “No Thanks”: Fried foods (falafel, crispy vegetables “tiganita”, cheese “saganaki”) and some phyllo pastry dough dishes (Spanakopita)

 

Santorini by Gedsman

 

Mexican

Starter: Tortilla Soup (only if a vegetarian version is available)

Entrees: Vegetable Fajitas, Vegetable Tacos (corn tortilla), Burrito Bowl (no tortilla), Tamale

Salad: Greens, Fresh Vegetables, Salsa, Beans, Rice, and Avocado

Sides: Guacamole, Salsa, Rice, Black and Pinto Beans (meal in itself)

Just Say “No Thanks”: Anything fried (crispy taco, taquito, chimichanga, tostada shell), cheese (queso), flour tortilla, nachos, tortilla strips and sour cream (including sour cream sauces, which are typically used on fish tacos)

 

Mexico

 

A Few Tips to Offset Toxic Food Exposure (especially in foreign travel):

1. To prevent damage from harmful oils, always take 1-2 capsules of an essential fatty acid supplement. The body will always choose to use the healthy oil over the toxic oil if present.

2. To prevent indigestion, bloating and gas from highly heated foods, hidden dairy and refined flour, take 1-2 digestive enzymes with your meal. This will help your body to digest the food properly, therefore decreasing your chance of having the food rot in your gut.

3. To prevent possible food poisoning or parasitic exposure, take 1-4 HCL capsules at the end of your meal. HCL is naturally produced by the stomach as a digestive aid and natural disinfectant. It will kill any pathogenic substances that might be present in your food. (This is especially important if you eat raw fish – high risk of parasites).

4. If you are traveling to foreign countries, take HCL with each meal as well as Probiotics. Probiotics are essential for maintaining healthy bacteria in your gut which will prevent any unhealthy bacteria from flourishing. The combination of these two have saved so many from diarrhea, food poisoning and sickness when eating foreign foods.

 

Garden Eating

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7 Comments

  • Reply Koko @ Koko Likes March 18, 2012 at 2:44 am

    LOVE this post Lo, great work.

  • Reply Christina March 19, 2012 at 2:34 am

    What a wonderful article. I’ve shared it everywhere! Keep up the good work! And thanks for taking the time to think of others and offering prudent advice on the joy of eating healthy.

    • lauren
      Reply lauren March 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      I will certainly do my very best!

  • Reply Trish March 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I love this post. I normally eat at home and cook my own food, but just returning from a family vacation I wish I had read your post first!! 😉

    • lauren
      Reply lauren March 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm

      Hahaha, well better late than never!

  • Reply Brandi September 13, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Hi Lauren,
    Great information! I was wondering if you had any tips for eating with family that doesn’t follow such wonderful nutrition. Ive been working on clean eating and balancing my hormones, but when I visit my family it’s hard to find items on the good list. They either do mostly starchy foods, carbs, or processed from a box. Veggies aren’t always there either. Sometimes it makes me sick to have so many bad things at once compared to my regular diet. I don’t want to hurt my family’s feelings but it’s hard to stick to a good plan when I’m there. Thanks!

    • Lauren aka The Holy Kale
      Reply Lauren aka The Holy Kale September 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      Hi Brandi…. I know all about this! The best thing is to offer to bring a dish… that way you can cook and eat what you want. You dont have to mention that you dont like their food, but simply that you want to contribute. You can then make that your main meal, and add their food to the side. Another option is to eat beforehand, or to bring a bar or travel food, and then only eat a small portion of the food they bring. Finally, you can also offer to do the shopping for the ingredients they will be using. Most recipes can be improved greatly just with the change of brand used – a highly quality oil, organic flour, fresh produce instead of canned etc. Hope that helps!

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