You Can Still Eat Out Part 2: What to Order Where

*Sorry this is later than I said it would be; I compiled this list on Word, and I was having internet problems, so I was unable to transfer it and post it.*

As I mentioned before, eating right while eating out isn’t impossible. It just requires a little knowledge, maybe some research, and as always, a little self control.

Here are some of my go-to’s for my most frequented restaurants:

McDonald’s

Grilled chicken sandwich, no mayo. Their balsamic vinegar dressing is a good alternative if you have to have a condiment. It’s ok to leave the cheese on, and sometimes even the bacon 😉 The whole wheat bun they serve it on makes it doubly awesome.

Fruit N’ Yogurt Parfait. As a side of course. They are admittedly kinda high in sugar, but in my opinion that’s cancelled out by the calcium, fruit, and the fact that it’s still way better for you than French fries.

Cheeseburger. That’s right, sometimes you gotta just have a good old McD’s cheeseburger. That, and the calorie count is only 300. So that plus your yogurt makes for a reasonable lunch.

Apple Slices. I don’t order them, because I’m allergic. But you can order them. It doesn’t get much healthier than sliced fruit.

Salads. They offer an impressive variety of salads. I’m also allergic to lettuce, so I don’t order these either. But you can. Just remember to stick to grilled chicken instead of crispy, and be VERY careful with the dressings.

Since I’m me, and everyone has their own taste, I would recommend visiting their website to see what your options are. They even have an ‘Under 400 calories’ page.

Breakfast. Stick to English muffins instead of biscuits, ham instead of sausage, and yogurt instead of hash browns.

Burger King

I had to rewrite this one. I’ve never liked BK as a ‘healthy eating’ option. Their grilled chicken and buns are really dry, and they offer apples and salads, but no healthy side that I can eat. In my opinion, their burger and fries are better than McD’s, but if I’m trying to eat healthy, I skip BK. So when they came out with their Satisfries, I was really excited. Until I did some research.

I went to their website to find out the calorie and fat counts for both types of fries. Their website and commercials are all about how the new fries are 40% less fat and 30% less calories than regular fries. Naturally, since you’re at BK, you assume it’s less fat and cals than original BK fries. But when I looked at the numbers, I didn’t need a calculator to see that it was not a 40% difference. Wondering why the discrepancy, I went back to the home page. This time, I noticed the tell-tale asterisks next to the font. So, I read the fine print, which states: “*40% less fat than McDonald’s fries” & “**30% less calories than McDonald’s fries.”.

That just makes me mad. They are basically lying to the public. Sure, those little asterisks mean they can’t actually be sued, because they were ‘honest’, but really?? Why not just say that? Or why not just say ‘20% less fat and calories than BK fries.’

So there’s my rant. I don’t think restaurants should be allowed to legally mislead people. It’s wrong.

So anyway, if you can down their grilled chicken sandwich, and you aren’t allergic to raw fruits and veggies, go for it.

Otherwise, the Whopper Jr. isn’t too bad of an option. It’s got tomatoes and onions on it (which I’m not allergic to), so you have some veggies. Just remember to skip the mayo. Personally, I think Bk’s cheese is gross, so I don’t order it there, but again, that’s just my taste.

Taco Bell

This is my favorite fast food option. As long as you order your items without any cream based sauces, and stay away from the deep fried foods, you pretty much can’t go wrong.

These are their cream based sauces:

Creamy Jalapeno sauce

Baja sauce

Pepper Jack sauce

Volcano sauce

Avocado Ranch dressing

Sour cream

Nacho Cheese

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean your food has to be boring.

Here are some toppings you can substitute, and they’re actually good for you:

Guacamole

Salsa

Pico de gallo

Cheddar cheese or three cheese blend

Red sauce

Tomatoes, onions, and lettuce

Their deep fried items are:

Potatos

Chips

Chalupas

Cinnamon Twists,

Empanadas

Edible taco salad bowls

What you can have instead:

Pintos & Cheese

A side of rice

Gorditas instead of chalupas

Subway

As everyone knows, Subway is another place you almost can’t go wrong.

My suggestions:

Ask for a whole grain bread (wheat or honey oat)

Load up on the veggies

Stay away from mayo and other cream based sauces and condiments

Oil and vinegar is ok; even good for you (they use olive oil)

Be careful with the chips. They offer baked chips and yogurt, which are better options.

Panda Express

I like Panda Express because there is no MSG, and they use fresh foods. Even better, they now offer brown rice. Their Wok Smart items are easy to spot, and have 250 calories or less per serving.

So if you can, I would stick to brown rice as a side, and choose Wok Smart entrees. Something with veggies is best of course 😉 But even I can’t resist their orange chicken once in a while.

At bigger, sit-down restaurants (Applebees, Olive Garden, IHOP, etc.), a lot of them now have a low cal or Weight Watchers menu. There are flavorful items with a reasonable fat and calorie count. Best of all, there is usually a side of fruit or steamed veggies.

If there is not an alternative menu, it can still be easy to eat right. Just remember to stay away from ‘crispy’ or fried items, stick to tomato based sauces instead of cream based sauces, and don’t forget your fruit or veggies.

So there are my restaurant secrets to eating right. If you have a smart phone, it’s easy to check nutrition facts on the quick.

Don’t forget to have desert once in a while!

You should know that I do not count calories (or fat) as a practice. I think it’s unnecessary and it over-complicates healthy eating. Especially since fat and calories aren’t what matter most in healthy eating. What matters most is making sure you get the vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, and carbs that your body needs. But it is important, especially when you’re losing weight, to know more or less how many calories and how much fat are in your food. Keeping it within a certain range each time you eat will help you stay in control and on track.

If there’s a restaurant you want specifics on, or you have a question about something, send me a message!

Advertisements

Skinny Girl Tips: You Can Still Eat Out!

During both of my weight loss rampages, I still ate at restaurants frequently. I even lost 20 pounds while working and eating at Taco Bell every day! Now, having a lot less mobility and a lot more pain, eating out is almost a necessity for us. For example, leaving church on Sunday, my husband and I took separate cars because he had to go straight to work. My hips and legs were hurting so bad I was holding back tears. But in the back seat I had two hungry kids (and a hungry me). There was no way I was going to be able to get around the kitchen to even make sandwiches. So we hit the Taco Bell drive thru instead, and watched a movie in the car while we ate.

Scenarios like that happen far too often at our house. Sometimes my husband is home with me, so he cooks, but being a cook at work, he cooks all day, and sometimes he just doesn’t want to. My daughter is also a big help, but at 8 years old, I don’t want her childhood to be about taking care of mom and little brother. So we eat out more than most people (or at least it seems that way). For a long time I felt guilty, because of the extra cost and the fact that it might not be as healthy as cooking at home, but with the help of a friend (Shout out to Mrs. C!) I decided that I wasn’t going to feel guilty anymore, I was just going to do what I needed to do to take care of my family, even when that meant doing things a different way than most.

I have never enjoyed cooking. It was kind of drilled in to me as a teen that I need to cook and learn to like it because when I get married and have kids, I will have to cook. So I tried, and I would get frustrated because it hurt, and it took so long, and then of course, you have to clean up afterward. So a couple hours of painful cooking and cleaning, for a meal that was gone in 20 minutes.  Ordering pizza just seems a lot less painful, and a lot more enjoyable. Luckily, my husband and kids don’t care that I’m not a 50’s housewife kinda girl. I’m kind of glad that I never liked cooking, because it would be one more thing that I wished I could do. Instead, I can see part of the blessing in my disability: I have a good excuse not to do something that I hate doing anyway.

So that was kind of a tangent, but this is a disability blog, so I feel like the disability aspect is important.

Anyway, it is totally possible to stay on track eating right at restaurants. Here are a few rules I follow:

  • No matter what you choose off the menu, STOP WHEN YOU’RE FULL. I know, it’s just. So. Good. But the leftovers will be good tomorrow when you heat them for lunch.
  • Have some fruits or veggies with your meal (fries don’t count. Anything deep fried doesn’t count). It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it’s as simple as having tomato, onion, and lettuce on your burger, or salsa and guacamole with your quesadilla.
  • Look at the menus nutrition guide if available. Most fast food places have them. Even Starbucks has one. Sit-down restaurants will sometimes list calorie counts next to menu items. 500-700 calories = good. 1,000 calories or more = bad. (This is for a meal, if you are just having coffee and desert, the counts should be much lower)
  • Grilled or baked, good. Fried or crispy, bad. I don’t think I need to explain that one.
  • Don’t be afraid of cheese. Just don’t ask for extra. Cheese has nutritional value. Remember, we’re making lifestyle changes. Are you going to go the rest of your life without cheese? Didn’t think so.
  • Think outside the mayo jar. Mayonnaise is bad for you. No nutritional value, lots of fat and calories. Get creative with your condiments. Burgers are fine with just mustard and ketchup. Guacamole & BBQ sauce make a great western burger. Balsamic vinegar is awesome on a chicken sandwich.
  • Trade in your French fries. The day when you could only get fries with your burger or nacho cheese sauce for your chips is gone. Try a healthy side like yogurt or fruit instead of fries. Ask for salsa and guacamole instead of nacho cheese. Gotta get that fry fix? Steal just a few from your husband (or kid or friend)!
  • The same goes for sour cream and salad dressings. Ditch the sour cream for guacamole. Still creamy, and packed with nutritional value. Cream based salad dressings are bad. Choose balsamic vinegar (good for you!) or olive oil and lime (also good for you).
  • Starbucks? Ask for nonfat milk. What about sugar free? Artificial sweeteners are chemically altered. They are carcinogens (shown to increase risk of cancer). Also, there have been tons of studies that show that they don’t help weight loss. Stick to the real stuff in moderation.
  • Starbucks pastry? loaf. Their reduced fat pastries are better than the regular ones! Or pick something with nutrients, like pumpkin or banana nut.
  • Pizza can be good for you! Especially if you order a thin crust vegetarian special. If you have to have meat, Canadian bacon (or ham) is your best bet. It has a surprisingly low fat and calorie count. If you don’t like all the veggies, just add the ones that you do like. Love Hawaiian? Just ask for Canadian bacon and pineapple instead. Hawaiian has extra cheese. If you don’t like thin crust, don’t beat yourself up; order pan. Ask for whole wheat crust where available, and don’t forget to sprinkle those little crushed pepper packets! So good for you, and a metabolism booster!

Eating healthy at restaurants doesn’t require a degree in nutrition, just a combination of common sense and creativity. Later in the week I’ll post some of my favorite weight-loss-friendly menu items 🙂 Now go hit a drive thru!

Skinny Girl Tips: Easy Ways to Incorporate Fruits and Veggies into Your Diet

Hey everyone! Sorry, I’ve missed a couple of weeks. We had some sad stuff going on, so I didn’t post any tips for a while. When we left off, I was going to show you some easy ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into your diet. Here they are 🙂

Breakfast
• Bananas, berries, raisins, or dried cranberries in your cereal or oatmeal. This one is simple, but many people don’t think of it. Peaches are great in oatmeal!
• Warm a whole wheat tortilla. Spread on some peanut butter and a sliced banana, drizzle some honey (good for you!), and sprinkle some cinnamon,
• Use whole wheat pancake mix to make pancakes, and add in some fruit chunks. My favorite combinations: apples and cinnamon, strawberries and white chocolate, banana and chocolate chips. Top with peanut butter for protein, and if you use syrup, use real maple syrup. (it usually comes in a glass bottle)
• Make a smoothie! Just use frozen yogurt, milk, and any fruit combinations you like. Don’t have frozen yogurt? Use regular yogurt and ice. Even add coffee!’
• Easy fruit and yogurt ‘parfait’: Layer yogurt, fruit, and graham crackers, cereal, or granola
• Top eggs with avocado, spinach, mushrooms, salsa, and/or whatever veggies you like.

Lunch
• Top sandwiches with avocado, tomato, cucumber, fresh spinach, and\or whatever other veggies you like. That works for burgers too.
• Don’t forget the veggies on your hot dog! Avocado, tomato, onion, and cucumbers go great.
• Top your nachos with all of those veggies too!
• When all else fails, have a side of veggies or a salad. It’s best to skip the dressing or use balsamic vinegar or olive oil and lime.
• A hot ham, cheese, and broccoli sandwich.
• Tuna: Use mayo made with olive oil, add in a little mustard or lime juice. Add raisins or dried cranberries, sliced avocado and tomato, or chunks of apple and/or celery.

Dinner
• Making pasta? Marinara is veggie packed, especially if you use or make one with veggie chunks. For alfredo add in broccoli and corn.
• For quesadillas, add corn, tomato, and/or onion. Dip them in salsa or guacamole.
• Chicken soup: Boil 4 chicken breasts, 4 small potatoes, half a bag of baby carrots, corn, half an onion,and2 zucchini. Add salt, garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, and chili powder to taste.
• Top chili with avocado, tomato, onion, cucumber, and/or corn.
Snacks
• Slice and apple and eat it with peanut butter as a snack. This is the perfect carbs-and-protein combination.
• Family sized bowl of guacamole: 4 avocados, ½-1 tomato, ¼-1/2 onion, ½ bushel of cilantro. Optional: ½ cucumber. Mash avocado, dice veggies, and chop cilantro. Mix together and add salt, lime juice, cumin, paprika, and chili powder to taste. The Lazy Cook’s way: Throw it all in a blender. It just won’t be as chunky.
• Pita chips with hummus, guacamole, or salsa.
• Dip bell pepper or cucumber spears in guacamole, hummus, or salsa.
• Drizzle chocolate over strawberries.
• Super quick ‘fancy’ salad: Sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, 1 can whole olives. Optional: Sliced avocado. Mix together with balsamic vinegar or olive oil and lime.
• When all else fails, wash some fruit or veggies and eat them.

Adding fruits and veggies is pretty easy once you get started. Use fresh as much as possible, but don’t feel guilty about using canned or frozen; it’s better than nothing. Be creative and find unique ways to add fruits and veggies to your recipes, or even frozen or microwave meals! If you’re not used to fruits and veggies being a big part of your diet, fake it ‘til you make it. It WILL make a difference in your waistline and your health!

Comment with your own creations!

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Fruits and Veggies

Skinny Girl Tip of the Week: Fruits and Veggies.

Did you know that the #1 most consumed vegetable in the U.S. is the French fry? It’s even the most common vegetable given to children, down to age 2! It’s no wonder we have an obesity epidemic.

The recommended daily intake of fruits is 2-4 servings, and veggies is 3-5. Do a quick self check about how many servings you usually get. If you meet the recommendation, pat yourself on the back. The fact is that most of us don’t get anywhere near that.

The biggest problem that causes for weight is this: If you’re not getting your calories from fruits and vegetables, you’re getting them from somewhere else. And 500 calories a day in fruits and vegetables is not the same as 500 calories a day in donuts and potato chips. For one, fruits and veggies are pretty low calorie, so you can eat more for less, so to speak. Also, they are filled with fiber and water, so they will keep hunger at bay much longer than a donut. And the most important reason; fruits and vegetables are full of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Vitamins and minerals that keep your immune system strong, your brain functioning, your muscles healthy, and even your organs and skin doing great.  Donuts and chips are filled with sugar and fat. Not the same effect on your body.

The good news is, your lack of fruits and vegetables is easy to fix. Make a commitment to add at least one fruit or vegetable to every meal. That doesn’t meet the recommendation, but it’s a whole lot better than nothing. If you’re really committed, have one at snack time, and add two to a meal when you can. Fresh is best of course, but not always possible, so frozen or canned is good too. Just remember that when they’re frozen, try to avoid the microwave – it depletes nutrients; and when buying canned, buy it canned in 100% juice or light syrup. I’m allergic to most fresh fruits and vegetables, so what I’m not allergic to I eat fresh, everything else I buy canned or frozen. And let’s face it, sometimes it’s just convenience.

Now, I know all the reasons you’re not getting them. You’re busy, they’re expensive, they go bad quickly, some of them are fattening, you don’t like them… I could go on. But instead I’ll tell you why these reasons aren’t reasons, just excuses.

You’re busy – It takes less time to peel a banana then it does to get a twinkie, or even a granola bar, out of the box and unwrap it. It takes even less time to pick up an apple and just start eating.

They’re expensive – Um, a can of fruit is about a dollar. Some places less than that. And you can get a bag of frozen fruits or veggies anywhere from $1 – $3 (sometimes more), depending on the size. Fresh fruits and vegetables are, unfortunately, on the expensive side. But if you think of it I in terms of what you’re saving in future medical bills, it puts things in perspective. Not to mention the pricelessness of feeling better, looking better, and teaching your family good eating habits, so that your kids don’t have to do this later. I mean, if someone could make you thin and healthy if you paid them $500, would you? Thought so. Oh, and you’ll be buying less junk, so it pretty much evens out.

They go bad quickly – If you buy them and don’t eat them they are going to go bad. So you have to actually eat them. If they do tend to go bad before you can eat all of them, cook veggies into a meal or sauté them by themselves (in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil! Not butter!). Fruits can go into pancakes, smoothies, or deserts. Even if you don’t plan on eating them right after cooking them, they can be frozen. Easy dinner sides on a rough day! Start off small with fresh produce, and if you use it all, you can more each week. Keep canned and frozen produce on hand for when you run out. They never go bad J

Some of them are fattening – When I hear someone say “I can’t eat avocado, it goes straight to my thighs.” I want to slap them. Um, honey, if you have extra weight, it’s not from a vegetable. It’s from the mayonnaise, and salad dressing, and cheese sauce, and deep fried whatever around the vegetable. You can’t get fat from vegetables!! Do avocados and other vegetables have fat? Yes. But it is an entirely different kind of fat than what’s in your mayonnaise. This kind of fat is good for you. It goes straight to your brain and muscles, not your thighs. You actually need the good kind of fat to lose the bad kind of fat. And it has the added benefit of being good for your heart and brain. It’s Omega-3. You can also get this from nuts, seeds, and fish (and olive oil!)

You don’t like them – Here in America, we tend to stick to our comfort zone when it comes to food, produce included. We don’t think outside the box of apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, broccoli, and peas. There are sooo many different kinds of fruits and vegetables. There are bound to be some that you like, you just have to do a little searching. Try the ones you don’t recognize. Make a fruit salad or a smoothie. Drizzle some chocolate over those strawberries (in modest amounts). The health benefit of the strawberries outweighs the detriment of the chocolate calories, if you’re careful. Besides, did you know that chocolate is good for you?

I’ll post a list of fruit combinations and toppings I love later in the week. For now I’m just going to warn you to be really careful with the salad dressing. Drop it all together if you can. If you have to have a dressing, use olive oil and lime, or balsamic vinegar, which are actually good for you.

So, eat at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal. Don’t worry about it being canned, fresh, or frozen. Just be careful with those syrups and get your vitamins and fiber! Oh, and don’t forget to give them to your kids, too!

Disclaimer: I am not a food scientist or a doctor. Everything I know I have read from magazines like Glamour, Redbook, and Cosmo; or on various websites. In other words, I’m a nerd and I read a lot.