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Whole Foods while eating out

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Old 10-09-2006, 02:06 PM   #1
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Default Whole Foods while eating out

Phantastica brought up a very good point about restaurant eating, and I started thinking about it. My DH likes to go out and I always feel a little panicked when he mentions it, because I know it's going to be a challenge to find something suitable.

What would you order in a traditional Mexican restaurant? The only thing I can think of is chicken fajitas with peppers and onions, salsa, guacamole, and black beans. I would either take my own WW tortillas or not have them, and would probably not eat the sour cream or cheese. Other than that, I'm stumped there.

Another favorite is a Mongolian grill. They have shrimp and lots of vegetables, and I try to limit the amount of oil I put on my plate. This is a place where you go thru a buffet line and choose the raw foods, then take your plate over to the grill where it is stirfried for you. I don't eat the rice there.

"American" food places such as Chili's or Applebee's are usually easy. Most have salmon dishes and lots of salads to choose from, so as long as I can stay away from the desserts that they practically FORCE on you I'm okay.

BBQ. Sigh ... you can hardly get away from it in Texas. Fortunately, most of them around here have roasted turkey. For the sides, I usually stick with corn and green beans. Whole wheat rolls are rare, but sometimes they have cornbread and if so, I'll sometimes get a little piece.

Fast food is hard. Boston Market is my favorite, and I love their turkey breast. They have good salads too, and corn, green beans, those garlic dill new potatoes that I could eat my weight in, steamed vegetables and fruit. The more traditional hamburger and chicken chains are hard. Wendy's and Chick-Fil-A have started offering fruit cups and hopefully the others aren't too far behind. I'll usually get a grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato but with no mayo or mustard. That way I can ditch the bun if I want to.

If my DH liked cafeterias, I'd be all set. Luby's has really good fish, and then so many vegetables and salads. There's plenty to choose from.

Great ... now I've gone and made myself hungry!
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Old 10-09-2006, 02:37 PM   #2
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Restaurants are hard, ditto potlucks! I go to lunch with 2 GFs every Friday. Our little town has only a few places that are not fast food, so I know what I'm having based on which one we choose. The Mexican restaurant has a chicken fajaita salad, which is the meat and veggies on a bed of lettuce with salsa and sour cream. It's very good. Maybe you could ask for that? At the other 2 places we go I usually have the chef or grilled chicken salad with lf dressing on the side. My DH is not a huge fan of restaurants so we don't eat out a lot, and again, living in a small place there's not a lot of choices anyway. Of course, what this means is when I go on vacation I have to try all these great places I've read about. Fortunately, that's not too often.
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Old 10-09-2006, 02:48 PM   #3
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Fast Food

Subway - turkey wrap on wheat tortilla, spinach, veggies, spicy brown mustard, no cheese

Qdoba/Chipotle - burrito "bowls" (no tortilla) - rice, black beans (or chicken sometimes), lots of pico de gallo, hot salsa, tons of lettuce and a side order of guacamole (which I eat half). No chips. (period, very firm period)

I rarely go to any other fast food places. I have been "traditional fast food free" since July 2004!

Mexican food

I normally get an order of rice, an order of refried beans and an order of pico de gallo and just stir it all together. I just love it. I work right next door to an Azteca (NW Mexican chain) so I end up going there a lot. I normally order a bowl of the black bean soup (no cheese), order of whole wheat tortillas and a side of pico de gallo. I use one of the tortillas (rip in half) to make 2 black bean burritos with the beans and the pico de gallo.

Chinese

I usually order a stir fry tofu dish with brown rice (if they have it). I try to check if the tofu is fried (I try to get the steamed/soft tofu). P. F. Chang's has a nice 300 calorie scallop dish that I love. I order the scallops, the spinach and brown rice - that makes 2 healthy meals.

Italian

I love gnocchi, but I try not to order it too much I never order cream sauces. I always get a red sauce and try for a whole wheat pasta. Salad with dressing on the side and no cheese. I stay out of the bread basket. I love Macaroni Grill's "build your own pasta bowl." They have whole wheat penne, spicy arribata sauce and I get spinach, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms - makes 2 meals.

Sushi

I almost always order the same thing - yellow tail/salmon sashimi and seaweed salad. I sometimes order an ume shiso roll (pickled plum) which I love. If I order nigri sushi, I never eat the rice "pillows"

American/Grill-type places like Outback

Not my favorite destination, but there is usually a salmon option. I order the salmon grilled with as little butter/oil as possible and double vegetables (no butter).

Indian

Chana Masala is my favorite (spicy chickpeas). I skip the rice and order whole wheat roti (no butter). I also like Baigan Bhartha a spicy eggplant dish (usually with peas). Dal is another good choice for me. Another Indian place I like has a fabulous dish made with greens - spinach/collards but without the cream/cheese that dish normally has. If I'm going to an Indian buffet, my rule is "one plate, no return visits"

Mongolian grill

Love these places. I choose the big bowl and fill it full of vegetables. It's a good time to play "how many super foods can I eat in one meal?" and get broccoli, tomatoes, tofu, onions, garlic, carrots, etc. I never get noodles. I try to get it with brown rice if they have it. I go easy on the oils and load up on the garlic, ginger

I don't eat a lot of meat and I live in Seattle, so barbeque places aren't an issue for me! I have no idea what I would order!
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Old 10-09-2006, 03:18 PM   #4
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We're pretty boring and tend to go to the same restaurants over and over. Thankfully, most of them have great choices for whole foods. My favorite Southwest place has shrimp in adobo sauce (very thin sauce, no cream) over spinach fettucini (I don't eat too much of the pasta) with tons of fresh steamed veggies (beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and something that looks like a granny smith apple but doesn't taste one!).

DD insisted we go to Applebee's last night (she's a hostess there and she wanted each of us to order the new dishes, so that wasn't a great choice, but not horrible--herb crusted chicken with arugula, tomatos and mozzarella).

There are several great seafood places we go to a lot, and they always have great dishes with steamed veggies.

My favorite Mexican place has some great dishes, but I often go "off plan" there and give in to the flour tortillas and a margarita!

My DH and kids like fast food, and I'll give in once in a while. When I'm trying to be really good, I'll do a salad. Often I fix my own (we always bring the food home to eat) and I'll grab a couple fries so I don't feel "deprived."

If Italian is the order of the day, I do try to stay away from the creamy dishes.

Basically, in any new restaurant, I look at what is being served as a side. Veggies are number one. I'll usually go with anything seafood (just thinking of it makes me hungry!!).

My biggest downfall are my Friday lunches with DH. We are trying all sorts of new places that are only open for breakfast and lunch. We work in a pretty industrial area, and more and more of these restaurants are springing up. Some are more healthy than others, but most serve little more than sandwiches. I do try to be good......but when faced with your choice of "sides" and the sides consist of coleslaw or fries, what to do????? Neither is diet friendly!! Usually, I'll take the slaw and only eat a little of it.
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Old 10-09-2006, 03:26 PM   #5
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Some are more healthy than others, but most serve little more than sandwiches. I do try to be good......but when faced with your choice of "sides" and the sides consist of coleslaw or fries, what to do????? Neither is diet friendly!! Usually, I'll take the slaw and only eat a little of it.
I wouldn't eat coleslaw or fries (cream and fried, no way!). I would either:

1. Skip a side, most sandwiches are pretty big anyway
2. Ask if they have soup
3. If they make sandwiches, they have vegetables. Ask for sliced tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, etc.

I am a special order FREAK and have no issues asking for things. Most people are really nice about helping out with healthy options!
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Old 10-09-2006, 03:27 PM   #6
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When I go out to eat, I tend to just do the best that I can. I enjoy Mongolian BBQ as well as pizza (lots of veggies, hold the meat) or quasi mexican places. Personally, I have trouble eating Mexican food (in restaurants) outside of California (best mexican food outside of Mexico!! IMHO) because it just isn't the same. The closest thing we have is Baja Fresh. Usually DF and I will split a burrito at Baja Fresh and load up on the salsas.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:13 PM   #7
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We have a non-chain Mexican place in town, run by - gasp - actual Mexicans! They're stuff is fresh and good - though they use all iceberg lettuce Of course, there's plenty of cheese and fried stuff to be avoided.

We actually have no non-fast-food chains (and of FF we have McD's, Subway and BK), one Chinese place (again, run by actual Chinese citizens), one Greek/pizza place, one vegetarian coffee shop that serves soup, salads, quiche, fresh baked breads and wraps (they also have awesome home-baked goods, but we won't go there!). and 3 all American type places. To get anything fancier, you have to drive at least 10 miles to the next town (they have Thai, Japanese and Cajun as well as all the types we have), and for a fancier dinner, it's at least 30 miles, and no chain stuff til you get to Anchorage, which is 50 miles. They have Chili's, Applebees, TGI Fridays, Lone Star, plus a couple of Mongolian places, and some indepenent very good ethnic places.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:22 PM   #8
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We have a non-chain Mexican place in town, run by - gasp - actual Mexicans!
We do too -- and at one of them, I gave up trying to special order anything because they don't speak English all that well. Sometimes you get what they bring you, no matter what you've ordered!

The other one is also run by Mexicans and they speak to each other in Spanish, but speak to customers in English. That makes me feel better. We have one chain Mexican restaurant, On The Border, but it's always crowded. I prefer the smaller ones anyway.
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Old 10-09-2006, 04:24 PM   #9
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Oh, I sooo need this thread! Since my DS moved in with his dad, I've had to change my entire set of rules about eating. It used to be that we ate restaurant foods infrequently enough that I wasn't adversely affected by a 'free' meal. Now that DS isn't around every night for dinner, cooking for one seems a little overkill. I've gotten way too many restaurant invites lately, and because I'm lonely I've said "yes" to them. Now I have to start making the right choices when I'm in restaurants.

I think it's really good to be aware that yes, they can make things that aren't on the menu, if you ask.

Oh, and at Chipotle, you can order a single taco (instead of the three that they sell), and it's only like $1.90 or something. It's not on the menu, but they will sell it that way.

At 'traditional' Mexican places, I order a chicken taco salad and don't eat the shell. I ask them to hold the sour cream and cheese, but can't pass on the guacamole. I also can't really ask the staff for too many substitutions, as they're not great with the English and I'm even worse with my Spanish, so I just have to kind of get what they send to the table.
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Old 10-09-2006, 05:51 PM   #10
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Pat,
One thing I've found is that mexican food varies depending on where you are at. When I lived in Colorado, I couldn't bring myself to eat Mexican food there either. The first time they served me ground beef when I ordered a beef dish, I was shocked. I've tried Mexican food (at restaurants run by real Mexicans) in various states but California has it hands down. I usually gain 5 lbs when I go home to visit just because I am pigging out on all the good mexican food I don't get from living outside of Cali
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Old 10-09-2006, 09:04 PM   #11
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Good thread guys. I live in the land of deep fry so eating out pretty much doesn't happen. All we have in my little town is fries and tenderloins (deep fried pork) so that is out. If I am somewhere that I must stop for fast food I get a salad or chili if I can find a Wendy's. If dh and I decide to go out (infrequent) I usually pick Red Lobster. Broiled fish, salad and veggie. Now potlucks at church are another story. Usually the only thing to eat is what I brought. I've taken to bringing a main dish, fruit and salad so I can EAT! LOL!
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Old 10-09-2006, 09:20 PM   #12
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Would you believe that after work today, my DH said "let's go to the Mongolian grill"? After talking about eating out all day! We don't go out that often, but he had taken off work early today to mow the back yard (we're having a cookout this Friday night) so he was tired and hungry.

I had shrimp, broccoli, bean sprouts, carrots, onion, cabbage, pineapple, mushrooms, and then garlic sauce and a little bit of hot oil. No rice, no soup, and a glass of water. All in all, it was a successful meal. Of course, now I'm full and the scale appears to be up a bit. (Shame on me for weighing at night anyway!)
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Old 10-09-2006, 09:27 PM   #13
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Joyofsix - exactly my dilemma! It's the "hospitality" after church that gets me. I plan for the potlucks, but really, most Sundays I just need to get coffee and go sit down. Stay away from the food table!! Unfortunately, it's lunch time when church is done and it's hard not to eat when it's there and I'm hungry. Yesterday at least there were apples and carrots!
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Old 10-09-2006, 09:42 PM   #14
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When I was very young, we had a potluck lunch after church every Sunday. Even though I hardly remember them, I miss those old days.
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Old 10-10-2006, 09:19 AM   #15
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This is a great thread!

For those times when we do fast food, I try to go to Wendy's. In addition to being close to my house (hey, if I had time, I probably wouldn't be there!) they have a choice of salad or chili instead of french fries in their combo meals. And they've committed to getting trans fats out of their food, and although I don't know the timeline on that, I think that is worth supporting.

As for Mexican we have all kinds of GREAT food around here. Traditional Sonoran mostly, but also Baja, Mexico City styles are readily available, Tex-Mex and generic Americanized Mexican Chain food. My absolute favorite is a Carne Seca Chimichanga, Enchilada Style with lots of guacamole and salsa. Mmmm. Unfortunately this is a heart-attack on a plate, so I save it for major splurges. Mostly I try to get fajita, mole, or some fish dish, skip the free warm homemade tortilla chips and hope for the best.

In standard American restaurants, my strategy (assuming it isn't a splurge night), is to look for some simple grilled chicken or steak, order the vegetables as my side. Eat any salad that comes, eat all the vegetables, then start on the meat and call it a night.

For Italian I usually get pasta in marinara, and cut it at least in half.

Pizza, thin crust pizza with lots of veggies and I order about half usual amount of cheese.

And finally, we just try not to eat out too much. Even if you are paying attention and doing the right things, you can just never be exactly sure what you are getting.

Anne
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