Healthy Dining Out

No matter what your goals, or what your needs, it is possible to go out and have a filling meal.  It doesn’t mean it’s a perfect cinch all the time, but it is possible (there are times when I do feel badly about wanting basic, clean options – but none of us should have to feel that way – establishments are there to provide a service and it IS okay to ask for what we want.  That’s the point!)

I like to eat volume, and I like to eat frequently – most restaurants don’t offer the kind of portions I need (sometimes leaving to order two sides of steamed veggies!) But…that’s always a possibility, right?  

Asian cuisines seem to be one of the easier options for those looking for more volume because often they do give larger portions (or at least will ask you if you want a full dish, or a smaller size…especially with takeout.) So Chinese or Japanese is often a good pick for me.

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My “usual” is miso soup, and steamed veggies and protein – lately I’ve gone the seafood route with shrimp and scallops, but steamed or boiled chicken works too.  The only sauce I use is soy, though when I can see the label in a store, I might buy dumpling or teriyaki sauce (Asian sauces can vary dramatically in nutritional stats and ingredients so with my sensitive system, I’d rather have the option to check.)

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Aside from being great for your digestive system, miso soup is healthier, and filling starter – it definitely takes the edge of a hungry raptor (me 😉 ) So much so that I ended up taking some of my dinner home with me – having some left is impressive!

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The Brilliance Of Riced Veggies

The riced veggie trend is one of my favorite things to have happened to grocery stores yet.  Sure, I appreciate the sugar-free products, absolutely.  And I LOVE that there are “natural food” aisles with non-monster brands (once nigh impossible to find.)  But while riced veggies are a cinch to make yourself – if you have a food processor at home – there’s a massive convenience in being able to snag a pre-made bag at the store.  And when a trend hits, that’s what you get – convenience!

I don’t use riced vegetables as the base for my meals all the time – sometimes the larger pieces are a good thing because it feels like you are eating more.  More bulk = feels like more substance.  

BUT…

Riced cauliflower, for one, is a fabulous substitute for rice, pasta, or even mashed potatoes – you get the volume, and a similar texture, without as many calories or carbohydrates.  So it’s a perfect swap for a dinner side (“healthy” fried “rice,” anyone?!) or base, as an example, and can even work for a base for doughs and baked items. 

 

What recently came my way was an announcement about Green Giant’s Riced Veggies – not just the cauliflower, but mixes.  What on EARTH has taken companies so long?!  

The glitch for me is that I have never actually seen Green Giant’s Riced Cauliflower in-store – I’ve had to buy other brands.  So I don’t know if I will have the best luck tracking these down, and desperately hope other companies follow suit (they’d be wise to!) Or…of course…that someone near me jumps on board and ups the stock levels!

The doubly-awesome news? GG is also offering a whole bunch of other mashed and roasted options so definitely check them out (store location link highlighted in the paragraph above.)

YUM!

Nutrition Humor – The Omelette Attempt

I’ve managed a *few* times to get a lovely, half-circle with jazz in the middle. But the flip is dicey.  Sometimes. . .

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Incidentally, I make my eggs the microwave – ALL the time.  Scrambling eggs in the micro is incredibly easy – in a microwave safe container, you don’t have to clean up more than once either. Pair them with steamed veggies and VOILA!  Healthy, satisfying meal without a stitch of hassle. 🙂

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Ahhh..simplicity!

Nutrition – The Easy Way To Add Volume

I definitely need to eat “volume” – a small snack will never cut it for me, despite that I am constantly snagging something to munch on.  I need to feel satisfied not only because I don’t want to feel hungry, but because my body doesn’t react well without the appropriate, and fine-tuned, amount of fuel.

The easiest way to add volume – the most obvious, also, but for some reason not as often as looked to as you might expect – is to load up on veggies.  A few sites are good about recommending this simple, incredibly effective “trick” but I feel like people still neglect to use it.  

One of my favorite recipes is an enormous sauté of vegetables and ground chicken – I use my Curtis Stone pans, with which I don’t need to use a stitch of oil.  (Yes, oil IS good for you, so a dash of olive isn’t the end of the world, but I try to be mindful, and not use it all the time if I don’t need to.)

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I sauté diced onions for a few minutes so they brown, then I add in fresh mushrooms (and, often, peppers too – red, yellow, and orange preferably, since they are the sweetest!) I later add diced tomatoes to it to make kind of a “sauce” – one, mind you, that is more vegetables than sauce! In a separate pan, I sauté the chicken, with nothing more than himalayan pink salt and spices.

Separately, I steam – in a BPA free microwaveable container, of course! – diced (or pre-riced!) cauliflower.  If I don’t have pre-diced (sometimes it is hard to find), I steam cauliflower florets – when they are done, and nice and soft, I use a potato masher to make little “diced” or “riced” type pieces.  You can use a food processor to do the same thing – this just takes less time and clean up to use a masher. 🙂 

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I have everything going at the same time, and will reduce the “sauce” to a simmer if necessary.  Once the cauliflower is ready, I mix it – and the “sauce” – into the pan with the chicken. And that’s it!

It makes a HUGE amount a food, and because of the volume of vegetables, each serving is less calories than it would be with just chicken…not to mention, it lasts longer, so you get more meals out of it. 🙂  

Delicious!

Clean food really DOES taste delicious.  You don’t need to mask your food with heavy-handed sauces – salt and pepper lets you actually TASTE the food in front of you.

De-lish!

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For more deliciousness

Staying Healthy When Eating Out

It is definitely possible to eat clean when you eat out – don’t let fancy menus intimidate you, peers pressure you, or options overwhelm!  

I’ve written tons of posts about eating at restaurants and on the road because the reality is…you aren’t always going to be in the safety of your own kitchen!  When you have goals – whether to lose weight, maintain fitness, optimize performance, compete…whatever – you know how important it is to stay clean.  Nutrition IS about 85% of it – let’s not kid ourselves.

Clean, however, doesn’t have to be boring!  Nor, equally important, does it have to leave you starving!  The whole idea is to set yourself up for SUCCESS, right?!

My family visited this weekend, and we had a three meals planned at restaurants – back in the day, that would have terrified me (having eating disorders is nothing short of being held hostage by delusional thoughts – it’s a living nightmare.)  Nowadays, I feel so blessed and thankful, not only that I can eat out and really enjoy it (sans anxiety!), but that my loved ones are supportive of my choices. ❤

One of our meals was in a restaurant that made Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…so you can imagine, it wasn’t poised as the most healthy.  Still, ordering steamed shrimp, broiled fish (no oil, no butter), and plain, steamed veggies was a CINCH!  It was delicious, filling, and totally in line with my needs.

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Dinner was at a fancier place, where richer dishes are commonplace.  But, again, easy-peasy – basic grilled fish, grilled vegetables, and an appetizer with plain crabmeat.  Clean, delicious, satisfying! 🙂

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Breakfast was at a hotel…with an OUTRAGEOUS buffet! The majority of foods were ones that I don’t really allow on my meal plan, but there we also many healthy, wonderful options.  I ordered my usual poached eggs, snagged some boiled shrimp, and a bowl of fruit.  

I never like to eat too much in once sitting (I CAN, but I’d rather break it up – both because I know I can overdo it easily, but also my body can better assimilate the nutrients when I leave time in between.)

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So what preparations should you look for / ask about when you find yourself at a restaurant?

  • Steamed
  • Grilled
  • Boiled
  • Broiled
  • No sauce, oil or butter (or on the side if you must)

Trust me, they have been asked before so DON’T be embarrassed.  Sticking to what works best for you…and, most importantly, leaves you feeling GOOD about you…is always okay!

For more food-related jazz…! 

 

Buona Pasqua!

I almost can’t believe Easter has come and gone already – wasn’t it just New Years!?

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I had the good fortune to visit my hometown, my family, and my love’s family for the weekend – we both have Italian heritage, and Easter was always a big hoopla growing up.  Nowadays, it’s more about being able to spend time together – the children (in my age range) are all grown, many with little ones of their own, and live in different states.  So having some quality time over a long weekend is a joy and a blessing.

I actually don’t recall precisely what our menu was comprised of when I was younger – the Christmas meals are clear in my mind for sure, but on Easter morning I think I was so gungho about the Easter Bunny baskets that I may have blocked everything else out! 

For lunch we ran to a wonderful little grocery store – I pickup up sliced turkey (I opt for the kind that doesn’t contain nitrates and other ugly preservatives!), and my hunnie found some broccoli spears to go with it.  Delicious!

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For dinner this year, we all decided on lobster, steamed shrimp, filets, and chicken breast, along with veggies – you might imagine I was thrilled! ❤  

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I will often hear people lament (half-heartedly, let’s be honest!) about holidays because they feel there is just so much temptation.  But the reality is that there are ALWAYS healthy options.  I’m very blessed – and thankful for it every day – that my family and friends consider what I will be having.  I am absolutely the most particular of the bunch, and I am so grateful that others care about what is being served, and if there are healthy options for me.  

In this case, though, it was a wonderfully healthy selection for everyone!  Yes, we had cakes and cookies too…but we also had children in the group! 😉  

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I had some fresh fruit salad from earlier in the day that I pulled out during dessert – sweet enough to keep me away from ingurgitating the cookies, and a nice end to the meal with my coffee (and coconut creamer. 🙂 ) 

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Breakfast When You’re Away From Home

So I can’t say I have had a 100% PERFECT experience as far as ordering a healthy breakfast meal when I’m out..but so far, it’s been pretty great!  I’ll always say “don’t worry, if they have eggs, fruit, and / or vegetables, I’m sure I can make it work!”  

But…my hunnie is more right than I am that asking for “CLEAN” isn’t always as simple as it *should be*…  Diner waitresses have looked at me curiously many times.  I’m not sure if they’re thinking “is she serious?” or “I feel kind of badly she’s so stringent.”  It might be a mix…and that’s okay.

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Generally, I make out pretty well.  I usually will order three eggs medium-boiled (preferably), though poached seems to be the easiest preparation (and the most common.)  I ask for medium-boiled because I don’t care for soupy yolks, nor for dry…and I also want to be sure they are fresh cooked and hot.  Someone did ask me once if I wanted already-made COLD hard-boiled eggs heated up.  Uh…no thanks!  (I wanted to say “would YOU?!“)

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So three it is (hopefully more on the medium side) and a side of fruit.  Fresh fruit is a great option because it’s full of nutrients, it’s less sugar dense than a juice, and you get to chew (I am a HUGE fan of munching…not drinking…my calories because it makes me feel more satisfied)…   There’s lots of fiber and water as well to keep you fuller longer. If that’s not around, I’ll ask for cut up “whatever-fruit-you-have”….or steamed vegetables if it’s later in the morning.  The protein and good fat in the eggs, paired with water-dense items will keep you from feeling like you didn’t have enough. 

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Generally, I get something close to what I’d like, which is great.  I feel good about those choices and know that if I need to snack later at home, I can do that (and I will, undoubtedly, bust out my veggies and do so!)

So it isn’t, by any means, impossible.  And you have every right to ask for what you’d like.  Not everyone will HAVE those items, so be prepared to choose something different – maybe grilled chicken slices! 😀

More and more people are modifying because of allergies, or for health reasons, so you won’t be the first.  And if I happen to have dined there before you, trust me, they’re used to it! 😉

(For more of what I eat…)

The Salmon Expert

I’d bet money that I’m the average foodie’s nightmare – my nutrition is clean, varied but simple, and I don’t do junk.  

My family is like a gaggle of foodies, and they LOVE cooking shows!

Wait…let me broaden the net – they love the Food Network.  

I’ll go visit my parents around dinnertime and some manner of cooking competition is on (Chopped is a household favorite.)  I feel a little bit like an outsider watching – I mean, I get it.  I’m terribly impressed.  But if that were me on there?  I’d basically shrug my shoulders when the baskets were opened, point and exclaim “I’ve never even SEEN that before.  What the hell is it?!”  I’m even venturing a guess that I wouldn’t know how to turn certain appliances ON.

As a kid I tried EVERYTHING – didn’t matter what it was, I’d give it a whirl at least once.  But in my old(er) age, I’ve had to modify, and I’ve recognized that with changes in my sports, my body has also (not so subtly) decided it has its preferences too.

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But while my body has changed…but my goals haven’t.  I know, therefore, that I need to be a little bit more mindful of what I take in – not only to stay in physical shape, but to FEEL good.  At the end of the day, not feeling lethargic or unwell isn’t a bonus…for me, it’s necessary.  If I’m exhausted, it’s because I worked hard, NOT because my body is having a rough time with the fuel I’m choosing.

I don’t “cook” much.  

I say “much,” er, generously...because really I “prepare” very simple things – eggs, protein muffins (which my other half not-so-affectionately dubbed “dry wall” (hey, honesty is the best policy!), salmon, chicken… I’m not “cooking” as in julienned veggies and seared, crusted seafood!  

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It would be fair to interject that I get bored very…V E R Y…easily.  I bore myself!  I get excited about overnight snow storms so I can stay in the next day…and when I wake up, all I want to do is go out.  

Fortunately, I’m never bored with eggs, poultry…or fish.  Salmon?  That is my FAVORITE.  

No butter, no oil…just grilled, broiled or baked.  

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The flavor of salmon, for me, is a delicacy.  I will never tire of it.  And I will NEVER be tired of steamed vegetables.  I do use salt – a solid dose of it too.  I can lean towards hypotension so it’s a good thing in this case…  But that, and cracked pepper aside, I don’t need much.  No sauces, no fancy marinade… Just the fish and veggies will do.

My boyfriend is an incredibly good sport about the whole thing.  Every so often he’ll go “BoooO-rrING!!!” while looking at my plate.  But even then he’ll say “how is it?  It’s kind of small, should we get another piece?”  I so appreciate the thought. 🙂  

Truth be told, though, the average piece is usually too big for me – I would rather take some home and enjoy it later (in my head I’m thinking I won’t assimilate all the protein in one sitting anyway – geesh!) so the portion is typically okay.

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The Colorado Salmon

It’s rare to find a place that offers WILD CAUGHT Alaskan Salmon…though if they did, I’d order that.  The flavor isn’t quite as succulent – it’s not as fatty, as you may well know.  But it doesn’t have as many risks with respect to contaminants and so forth (which the farmed does.)  That in and of itself could be a massive diatribe – I’m NOT going there, because I am not a scientist.

If I CAN get wild, I will.  But I don’t eat salmon SO much that I’m afraid I’ll be lit up like a neon sign after ingesting just-one-more piece.  (If you are pregnant, or have health concerns, you may want to double check appropriate consumption levels.)

So salmon and veggies it is for me…much of the time.  And at this point I feel like I’m a certified expert.  (My FB Album is fair testament to my Salmon expertise.  A visual resume, I like to call it!)

In Colorado I had an UH-MAZING piece – super tender and pink on the inside, thin crisp on the outside…just a few spices.  Happy girl. 🙂 (PS, it was the one in the last photo above.)

I think the reality of it is that if ever a talking bear marches out of the wilderness and decides he (or she) gets hired by some enormous food review publication (or, better…THE FOOD NETWORK!)…I might just well give that bear a run for his (or her) money!  

You heard (read) me.  I may know just a little bit more than an Alaskan bear about the yumminess factor of salmon.

Yep.  I’d bet money on that.

 

 

Healthy and Happy Weekends With My Hunnie

One of the most important things in Life is to be around people who support you in your goals and endeavors.  Those who not only allow you to BE who you are…but who love you JUST the way you are.  No judgement, no pressure, just comfort. ❤

As spoken to in other posts, it’s fair to say I am incredibly particular about my nutrition – in part, I physically feel better when I eat a certain way.  And, in part, it is important to me to stay at a certain level of fitness – I’m not just speaking outwardly here, but also in the sense that I want to have the proper fuel to achieve the endurance and strength I am looking for, as well as the sustenance needed to support my gains.  As we get older, hard work is rarely enough – without the necessary nutrients and macros, the challenges are tougher to surmount.

Having been through two severe eating disorders, PTSD and CPTSD, it was a concern of mine that anyone I’d want to be with would think I was “odd” with my eating habits.  Oftentimes a person who suffers such illnesses grapples with shame, pain, and a whole lot of (unwarranted…but excruciatingly real, and highly debilitating)  embarrassment surrounding discussion of our “eating habits.”  And when I say that, I mean to the point of leaving us captive at home, terrified to leave…and petrified of getting to know anyone new.

I’ve had plenty of people make jabs and comments, but over the years I’ve thankfully come to realize that:

  1. I’m really NOT that odd.  At ALL.  (Real lightbulb moment!)
  2. Some of the people who do make jabs often are unhappy with their own dietary habits, and / or aren’t thrilled about where their own health stands.   
  3. Not everyone “gets” or appreciates my personal goals…and that is totally okay!
  4. There are a LOT more supportive people out there who say “oh WOW, I wish I ate like that!” as opposed to the smaller group saying “do you even eat ‘real’ food?”
  5. Being in a relationship with someone who supports you makes EVERYTHING better.  The anxieties that once plagued my Life melted away. Literally.  Just. Like. THAT.  Being able to breathe again is an incredible feeling – so much more freeing than I can express.

My hunnie and I will go out to dinner, or brunch, or breakfast…and there’s never stress about what I’m ordering, or if I sound strange or picky… He just smiles because I am so happy with the healthy foods that I ask for.  It doesn’t even matter if I ask for the same things all the time, he’s just happy that I AM happy, and that means so much.  If you have ever been through eating disorders, or ANY disorder for that matter, you will understand the gravity of these words.  It IS a big deal.

This weekend he took me to a beautiful restaurant in a quiet, charming town – we sat outside in the early even sun, surrounded by singing birds and the scent of flowers and green. Divine. The menu reminded me of Yin and Yang, and how fitting it was, as the duality of Life ever amazes me – whether the contrast of having been in the depths of despair and fear with anorexia and exercise bulimia, to rediscovering the feeling freedom and breath years later.  Or the idea that it is possible to find a piece that fits so perfectly with one’s own…so much so that Life becomes brighter, and dreams manifest of their own volition, without solicitation.  I once had someone sew seeds of disillusionment and self doubt, saying that “no one will ever love” my quirks the same way, or be as supportive of them.  How refreshing it is to prove that wrong.  How refreshing to find more comfort with one person than I ever knew existed…or thought possible.

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As for what I had… I don’t like to drink my calories (no, I don’t count – fortunately I dropped that habit a while back!) – eating is physically more satisfying to me than drinking so I’d rather enjoy a delicious food for than imbibe them.  It was therefore my usual water with lemon, which I find super refreshing, great for digestion…and never in competition with the flavors of my meal.  There are, of course, a slew of other benefits, including balancing the body’s ph (which can reduce inflammation), providing a nice source of citric acid, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous...and flushing the system.

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I had a beet salad with goat cheese, which was incredible – beets are often touted as a great recovery food, not only because they are chock full of vitamins (A, B, C), as well as antioxidants (beta-carotene, beta-cyanine), fiber, iron, folic acid, potassium and magnesium to name a few…  But, they are also high in inorganic nitrates, which is converted to nitric oxide in the body, after leaving the mouth.  The purported effects of a beet juice supplement include better endurance, better “bang for the buck” as far as the output needed to sustain a certain level of training, increased blood flow to the muscles…and lower blood pressure.  I’m not a nutritionist, nor a scientist so I will leave fleshing out of the discussion to them – I wasn’t ingesting a massive amount, but the point IS…I was happy to order a selection of beets knowing that it was leg day (the natural sugars would help, no matter the quantity), and it was also a healthy option. 😀  The dish was rapidly devoured.

I also requested seared salmon (as was the preparation there) with no added oil or butter – salmon of course boasts plenty of “good fats” (fish is one of my primary dietary sources of fat) so it isn’t necessary to douse it in anything else.  Beyond that, I find it doesn’t need it – the fish’s flavor is so mild that other added fats would compete – salt is enough!  There is much larger conversation to be had about farmed versus wild, which I will not address here – again, better to hash out with pros. With it, I asked for steamed vegetables (I got more beets – yay!), also without any added butter or oil.  They were PERFECT!  Salt and pepper was all I needed to bring out the natural flavors. 

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I was a HUGELY happy camper!  I always want to eat MORE steamed veggies, which I make at home and eat OFTEN…but this held me over for a while, which was great.

The following day, we went to lunch at a super delicious, local Italian restaurant – naturally, I ordered in my typical specific fashion.  That said, my orders are NEVER complicated – grilled chicken, no oil, no butter…plus… steamed vegetables, no oil, no butter.  That’s it! 😀  It came out PERFECTLY! ❤

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While ordering out is nothing to the average person, it IS a big deal to those of us who either live a fit Life, and / or have been through various “food issues.”  It can be the difference between living Life AT ALL…and being cooped up, frightened and alone. Having a supportive other half, friends and family is vastly more important than I’d be able to express – it is always valued and appreciated, and never goes without inner acknowledgment.  

To be able to enjoy a dinner out is something that, for a long time, I never dreamed was possible.  So for me…salmon and steamed green beans is worth celebrating over – every single time I have it!  

Talk about feeling blessed.  

Being able to breathe and feel comfortable are luxuries that this girl will NEVER take for granted. 

X ❤