Eating Out

Wow, 3000 blog hits in one day?  Thanks, Rachel Ray!

Eating out… it’s part of our American culture.  We eat out to bond with friends and family, have a special night out with our significant other, or just avoid cooking.  Any diet that doesn’t allow you to ever eat out at restaurants is not sustainable!  The key is figuring out how to fit it into your healthy lifestyle, because most of us know, restaurant food can be a major fat trap… why do you think it tastes so darn good?  For my husband and I, we limit our eating out to once per week, for both nutritional and budgetary reasons.   Usually, I’ll try and select a balanced meal with the Cinch puzzle pieces — produce, protein, whole grain, and healthy plant-based fat — and also make special requests to cut down on the excess fat and calories.  And sometimes I just go all out and splurge.

Yesterday, we were on our way home from work and I was fantasizing about a healthy avocado wrap, when my husband unexpectedly pulled into an O’Charleys restaurant.  Apparently he was craving chicken tenders and nachos.  Um, yeah… Honey you enjoy those all by yourself…

O’Charleys is great for a yummy, cheap meal, but there is not a single entrée that I would consider “healthy” all by itself.  Even the salads are loaded with sugar, fat, and sodium.   However, they do have one of my very favorite salads, and I’m not even a salad fan – the California Shrimp Salad.  Picture and description below from the restaurant’s website:

Looks healthy, right?  Any idea how much this salad will set you back WITHOUT dressing?  Try 700 calories, 42 grams fat, and 53 carbs.  If you added the full ramekin (2oz) of dressing, it adds an additional 240 calories, 18 grams fat, and 8 grams sugar.  Crazy, right?  But there is still hope – just customize!  Here’s what I did:

  • Asked for the lunch portion – many restaurant will offer a smaller version of their entrees if you ask.  For this salad, the lunch portion is $3 cheaper and about 1/2 the size. 
  • Grill the shrimp without butter
  • Hold the blue cheese
  • Dressing on the side

The result: a delicious salad with just a hint of dressing (I only used a little bit of that ramekin on my bowl), roughly 350 calories, 10 grams fat, and 30 carbs.  Still looks great, right?  It was delicious!

O’Charley’s has another thing that my husband and I dearly love… Caramel Pie!  My husband was feeling rather devilish and trying to tempt me to order dessert, teasing me about being a “food nazi”.  I finally gave in and decided to splurge, but once again, customize!  Rather than the full-size serving, which will set you back 440 calories, 21 grams fat, and 51 carbs, we went with the “mini” and split it, which only cost me 160 calories, 7 grams fat, and 21 carbs.  Yum, yum, yum, without the guilt.

So there you have it, eating out on a diet and actually enjoying it. 

Today’s Menu & Workout Plan:

  • 5:30 am – Fruit & Nut bar, 1 cup carrot juice, vitamin
  • 6:30 am — 4 mile run / walk, strength training: arms
  • 9:30 am – Greek yogurt with blackberries, pistachios, wheat germ, honey
  • 2:00 pm – 3oz fish with mixed veggies and 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 6:00 pm – Apple, 10 mile bike ride
  • 8:00 pm – Meal-in-a-Bowl with brown rice, avocado, beans, tomato, salsa

3 thoughts on “Eating Out

  1. It’s amazing the number of calories and fat in a salad that you think is “healthy” Thanks for the tips on asking for a smaller portion….I’ll give that a shot!

    By the way, what type of carrot juice are you drinking? Are you making it yourself?

    • Usually Odwalla carrot juice, which comes in a big bottle in the produce section of my Kroger. Sometime I get Bolthouse when it’s on sale. I actually did a blog about carrot juice a while back if you search it on my site. I’m sure I could make it myself too, but I’ve tried juicing before and I hated how much of the veggie I throw out and how little is left in the juice. It seemed a lot cheaper and easier to just buy juice that doesn’t have any added ingredients. Interestingly, I’m not a huge fan of plain carrots, but love the juice.

      • Ok, cool I’ll be on the lookout for that! I’m not good at juicing stuff myself either 🙂 Happy 4th!

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