Happy Memorial Day Weekend everyone! I hope you’re all taking some time to relax, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the…. rain and clouds? Hey, at least y’all get an extra day off of work.
So let’s face it. On the weekends we get lazy, which usually means we go out to eat instead of taking the time to make a home-cooked meal. We all know that entrees at restaurants can be packed with tons of calories, fat, and sodium, so I’m going to give you some advice that will hopefully help you stay in control, even when you go out to eat.
My Top Ten Tips for Eating Out
- Look at the menu online before you go! This way you have an idea of what your options are and you can scope out the healthier menu items before you even get there. Most restaurants now provide nutrition information online too, which can help you make an informed, healthy decision.
- If you don’t have time to peek at the menu beforehand, scan the menu for a “lighter side” section. In trying to keep up with the health craze, several restaurants have now added entrees that are “less than 600 calories”, or something of that sort. These are usually going to be some of your best options. Caution: the portions will seem small in comparison, which is why they are low in calories. Funny how that works. 😉
- Skip the appetizer. Appetizers often fill you up before you even get your entrée, and then you end up eating the whole meal too! Avoid overeating by ordering a small side salad before your meal instead.
- If you order a salad, ask for the dressing on the side. This way you can control how much dressing you use, eliminate a lot of calories, and save yourself from getting a soggy salad! Opt for a lighter dressing such as fat free Italian or balsamic vinaigrette, rather than ranch or honey mustard. Also, nix the crispy chicken tenders. Instead, add on some grilled chicken or salmon for some lean protein that’ll help keep you full longer.
- It’s the weekend. You’re out to eat because you’re feeling lazy (we already went over this). You want to let loose and get a drink too, so what should you choose? Try to stick with a light beer, a “skinny girl margarita”, or any other light cocktails they offer. Avoid frozen margaritas and fancy cocktails, as these tend to be super high in sugar & calories! If you must, just get one frozen marg and then convert to light beer.
- This one is a no brainer. Ask for a to-go box right when you order, and scrape half of your meal into the box when they bring it out. Hellooooo portion control! Do NOT sneak bites out of the box after you’ve licked your plate clean. That defeats the purpose. 🙂
- Split an entrée with a friend! Portion sizes at restaurants are ridiculous these days, and splitting one will most likely leave you feeling satisfied, instead of putting you into a food coma for the next 3 hours. Order a side salad first (with dressing on the side) if you’re worried it won’t fill you up.
- Create your own entrée! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Trust me – I have worked at a restaurant for 5 years. They will do it if you ask. For example, they offer a grilled salmon club that comes on a monstrous ciabatta bun with chipotle ranch and it only comes with french fries? Try asking for grilled salmon + some lighter side options such as whipped cauliflower and grilled zucchini & squash.
- Avoid all you can eat buffets at all costs. First of all, no human being needs “all you can eat” at one sitting. Unless maybe you’re going to be stranded on an island for the next 2 weeks without food. Even then, it’s too much. You will absolutely overeat in an attempt to get your money’s worth. Save yourself the tummy ache and the guilt, and say no to buffets.
- Craving dessert after your meal? Check the menu for mini desserts. They are small, but just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. Better yet – keep a few Hershey kisses in your purse and stick with those. It’s the perfect amount of chocolate to keep your hormones in check, and best of all, free! 🙂
Next time you’re going out to eat, try one or several of these tips! You’ll be so proud of yourself, you might have no choice but to treat yourself with a skinny girl marg or mini dessert. ; )
Just in case you are going to any Memorial Day potluck parties, I’m going to give you one of my favorite recipes for homemade salsa. Chips & salsa is always a crowd pleaser, especially if it’s homemade!
Fresh Homemade Garden Salsa
- 4 cups cherry punch tomatoes (I usually just use one container)
- 12 small sweet bell peppers
- 1 medium white onion (I only use about ½ an onion because my family doesn’t like too much of it)
- 3 jalapenos (optional – for spicier salsa)
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 limes
- 2 tsp cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 tsp of chili powder (optional – this is if you prefer spicy salsa)
- Wash all produce thoroughly and dry using a paper towel.
- Chop up tomatoes, peppers, jalapenos and onions and add to bowl.
- Chop the long stems off the cilantro, and tear off the leaves. Chop up finely and add to vegetables.
- Cut limes into wedges and squeeze limejuice over the top of the vegetables.
- Add cumin, salt and pepper, and chili powder (if desired).
- Add to food processor and pulse until you reach the desired texture.
- Serve with multigrain chips or over tacos and enjoy!
Side Note: I have a Ninja (best purchase of all time btw), so I barely have to chop the vegetables up. If you have a powerful blender or food processor, save yourself some time and let the blender do the chopping for you!