FITintheCity: Decoding the Menu!

Making Healthy Choices when Eating Out

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February is upon us my FIT friends and there will be many obstacles this month!

The motivation-killing cold, Valentine’s Day, and, of course, Restaurant Week!

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In honor of Restaurant Week, I wanted to take a few minutes to give you all some great tips on navigating restaurant menus and help with making healthier (and wallet friendly) choices when dining out.

 FITgals Menu Tips:

1.      Try not to go to the restaurant starving.  When you get to the restaurant so hungry you would eat your foot, you have a tendency to order more than you need and to load up on the bread.

2.      You don’t need an appetizer, entrée, and dessert!  If you want to try a few things, check with your dining partner about his or her thoughts on sharing.  A good trick here is to each order an appetizer (salads are usually great choices with dressing on the side) and split the entrée.  If you do this, you can usually get whatever entrée you want (within reason).

3.      If you are drinking, forgo dessert.  If you have coffee or tea (with sugar), forgo dessert.  If you need dessert, try to split it or take half and immediately put half away.

4.      Avoid sodas and sugary drinks.  Want bubbles?  Try soda water. Want alcohol?  Best choices are wine (red), gin/vodka and soda, scotch neat or on the rocks (no mixer), or gin/vodka straight up.

5.      Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Feel free to say things like: no butter, easy on the oil, sauce on the side, dressing on the side.  Look for words like fried, creamy, chowder, sautéed, and other words that indicate high fat content.

Easier said than done, you say? 

Well here are three restaurants I have been to that are participating in Restaurant Week in DC (http://www.ramw.org/restaurantweek/) with your best and worst choices.

Ardeo + Bardeo:

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Best Choices: 

  • Spinach salad, gnocchi, braised fennel, truffle vinaigrette (dressing on the side)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil Poached Cod. 

Diet Busters: Crispy ‘buffalo’ chicken thigh confit, blue cheese, fingerling potato salad and Lamb merguez, shallots, oil cured olives, oregano, feta pizza.

Brasserie Beck:

(They have a prix-fix lunch menu).

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Best Choices:

  • Belgian Endive Salad with Weakley Orchard Apples, Radicchio, Maytag Blue Cheese, and Red Wine-Mustard Vinaigrette (cheese and dressing on the side)
  • Grilled Salmon with Parsnip Purée, Rapini, and Crushed Ruby Red Grapefruit Vinaigrette.
  • Skip dessert and see if they will do a coffee or tea instead.

Diet Busters: Parsnip Bisque with a Torchon of  Duck Confit and Crisp Oyster Mushroom (bisque = cream, crisp = fried), Beef Carbonnade (Beef Stew Braised with Kasteel Bruin Beer), and any of the desserts.

Mintwood Place:

(They have a prix-fix dinner menu).

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Best Choices:

  • Mixed Greens or Octopus Salad,
  • Whole boneless seabream with braised fennel and picholine olives
  • no dessert again (ask if they will do coffee or tea).  If not, key lime pie is your best option here.

Diet Busters: Smoked potato & sunchoke chowder (chowder = cream), Bacon Cheeseburger, and really any of the desserts. Pecan pie and brownie sundaes are the big killers here though.

So remember….

During Restaurant Week you usually get more food than you need.

Try to get in the habit of eating half and saving half.

Remember to plan around the meal.

If you know you are going to have a heavy dinner or lunch, eat light the rest of the day.

A yummy juice for breakfast and a light salad for your other meal will leave you with the leftover calories to indulge (a little…)

Hope this helps!  Stay focused my FIT friends and bon appetite! 

xoxo FitintheCity 

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