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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Out And About

Today, one of my best friends, Regina, and I had a lunch date at our favorite little café in Point Pleasant, NJ. The Beanery is an adorable slice of heaven that serves up fresh and healthy lunches. If you're ever in the area, it is a must-taste place. They have a great selection of salads, sandwiches, soups, teas, and baked goods. You really can't order something bad here, and the service is always friendly and fast.

Lots of people ask me for advice when dining out on a diet, so I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to share some tips.

First, try and pick a place that has healthier options (Sorry, Applebee's and The Olive Garden don't count). If you don't have a choice of where you're going to be going, stalk the menu for something that doesn't sound like it will clog your arteries in one bite. Grilled, broiled, and baked are key words to look for—avoid anything and everything that is fried! Broiled fish, in my opinion, is the best option for dinner because it is low in calories, high in healthy fats, and high in protein.

Beware of cream and butter-based sauces because they will rack up the calories and fat faster than a Paula Dean lasagna sandwich.

If you're going to go for a salad, make sure that a non-creamy dressing is served on the side. Salads may always seem like the healthiest choice, but many can be laden with fattening toppings like cheese, nuts, and croutons. Sometimes it better to just get a full entree than a salad.

Moderation is key, even when dining out. Just because you're served a giant plate of food does not mean you have to eat it all. For years, my mother always cut her meals in half when they arrived and would plan on taking the other half home to have for lunch the following day. This is a great idea, but never feel bad for eating your entire plate if half of it is filled with veggies.

Don't be afraid to customize your meal. For example, today I ordered my veggie sandwich without the mayo, got a fruit salad instead of the chips and salsa, and took off a slice of cheese when my meal arrived. In a lot of restaurants, you can ask for extra vegetables instead of rice, potatoes, or french fries.

And most importantly, always drink water with your meal. If you don't want to overeat, I suggest drinking a a full glass before, during, and after your meal. Trust me, you will get that full-feeling without stuffing yourself with too much food.

But back to my lunch date!

I was so ready to eat when our food arrived and when I looked at my plate, all I could think was, "Wow!" My veggie sandwich featured romaine lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onions, and sprouts. 

It was so packed with delicious and juicy vegetables that I'm pretty sure I looked like a slob trying to bite into this and having tomato juice drip down my hand. So worth all the messiness. 

And don't let me forget about that fruit! The perfect dessert to my sandwich. Everything was perfectly ripened, but I started to get full, so I ended up leaving the orange slices and a few grapes on my plate. Everything else has happy to be in my belly. 

Do yourself a favor and check out The Beanery, or try and find a cute cafe or bistro near your home and enjoy a healthy meal out with a friend!

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