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Menu Tips & Tricks

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Menu Tips & Tricks

Learn some quick ways to navigate the menu and find the healthiest options possible while dining out!

  • News flash: You don’t have to order salad to be healthy! In fact, beware of the salads as they have sneaky calories and unwanted ingredients that end up being worse for you than another option.
  • At first glance: Browse through the menu and see what the restaurant has to offer. More often than not, if it’s on the menu, they can make it for you! Focus on what they DO have, not what they don’t have.
    •  For example: you go to a bar and see they have tons of fried food – no bueno! BUT they do have guacamole with chips, and balsamic veggies with cheese dip. Ding, ding ding! You order the guacamole with the veggies – hold the chips, hold the cheese dip and make your own meal.
  • Pay attention to HOW your food is prepared: Just like the “sneaky salad” tip – you want to remember that dressings, oils, butter, etc. all add up in the end. Don’t be shy when asking your server how they cook something and don’t be shy to ask them to modify it for you.
    • The most common things to beware of:
      • Salad dressing: I recommend asking for olive oil and/or lime on the side. Also remember that vinegar and vinaigrette are two VERY different things. Vinaigrette means there’s sugar all up in there so stay away!
      • Butter: Most places will use butter (or canola oil – not great either) to cook their food because it’s delicious, duh! But if you’re really trying to be a hard-core clean eater, I would recommend asking them to hold off. You can ask for your food to be steamed, or see if they have another option like olive oil.
      • Breading: Watch out for breading on your protein, and sometimes even veggies. Not all breading looks the same, sometimes there’s a light batter you wouldn’t even think twice about because you can barely see it, but it’s very much there. Think about french-fries, some are gluten-free and some are not and the difference is the batter that many places use, it’s not totally noticeable but if you have a gluten allergy it makes all the difference.
  •  If you do get the salad… So sometimes salad IS your best friend. Like those days your friends want pizza and you’re stuck with the sad side salad filled with iceberg lettuce, and maybe a tomato or two - we have all been there. Here is where tip two will come in handy. Not all salad is created equal and at a glance, you may be disappointed with your options, but remember to add protein, ask for some extra veggies – maybe even see if they can throw ‘em on the grill – and before you know it you know it, your friends are jelly of your creation (even if they are eating pizza).
  • Safe spots: My go-to places on the menu are the “entrees” and the “sides” sections. The entrée section will at least have a nice lean protein option and the sides usually have a veggie or small salad option. Swap out the entrée sides for a lighted pick from the “sides” section.
  • Pay that damn extra dollar! Some places may charge you to change a side or to add protein, or make any modification. I once had to pay SEVEN, yes SEVEN, dollars to add chicken to my salad. Woof! But, at the end of the day, I got a healthy, satisfying meal out of it (which was important that time in particular as I was on a road trip with friends and that was the only place we had the option to stop and eat). So my advice, suck it up, make an investment in your healthy, and pay the $1.99!