ask the nutritionist: eating out without gaining weight

Last week, when I posted about all of the Korean BBQ I’ve been eating, I received a question from a reader wondering how to eat out when you are trying to lose weight. I should mention that I’m not actively trying to lose weight, just maintain it, so if you are actively trying to lose weight, limiting meals out may be a good idea.

This is not an easy question to answer because there are so many ways, opinions and answers/suggestions on how to eat out and not gain weight.

Eating out for me is pretty much an obsession/favorite hobby of mine. I love exploring new cuisines and ethnic foods that I’m not familiar with in addition to any old delicious restaurant. I’ll try everything and every place once and so far, I’ve liked pretty much everything. :) I prefer to eat out on a regular basis, so I definitely rely on a few “tricks!”

Here are some of the ways that I enjoy restaurant meals without gaining weight: 

  • Decide what calories are worth it and which ones aren’t.
  • Appetizer or dessert.
  • Share! The Taster and I always share meals, and often just share small plates so we can try more items.
  • Take home some leftovers. When we had breakfast at The Griddle Cafe, the portions were so huge that we had enough leftovers to provide another whole meal.
  • Appreciate and savor delicious meals – having someone cook for you should be luxurious and special, treat it as such!
  • Don’t eat until you are stuffed. Sure, this will happen from time to time, but I make an effort to not leave a restaurant stuffed.
  • If you eat a large meal, don’t feel obligated to eat your normal breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks afterwards – listen to your body! Some meals we’ll eat a little more, and some we’ll eat a little less.
  • Eat the types of meals that you would typically eat at home. I often look for seafood or other protein and will usually request all non-starchy vegetable sides. Potatoes are not worth it to me, so I’ll typically skip them and ask for something else. (If I’m eating a burger, that is a different story).
  • Workout! Restaurant fare is typically a little higher in calories than a meal at home so it is just another reason to workout regularly. :)

Everyone has their own tips and tricks – please share yours! (Even if your tip is not eating out!) :)

chicken field salad {trader joe’s inspired}

I’m pretty sure I’ve tried 98% of the items at Trader Joe’s. I mean, it is just too convenient. It is across from the yoga/spinning studio that I belong to. There are three of them within walking distance of our apartment. And they are absolutely everywhere here in Los Angeles.

So I’ve been doing most of my shopping there and trying everything along the way. I’m working on a Best Of Trader Joe’s post, but I’m struggling with how to organize it – there are so many great things! Anyway, one of our favorite salads is the Chopped Field Salad with Chicken – it has flavorful currants, chewy couscous and the sweet basil dressing – oh, that dressing! I set out to recreate the favorite and while I made a few changes, the flavors are very similar. This chicken field salad has all of the “requirements” for an entree salad, so it’s the perfect salad for lunch or dinner –  full of protein, fiber and flavor!

 

Chopped Field Salad

by Emily Dingmann

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients (2 large entree salads)

For the Salad

  • 1 cup cooked israeli couscous
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn, toasted in hot pan
  • 8 oz cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp pecans
  • 2 oz cheese (I used feta but parmesan is used in the TJ version)
  • 8 cups mixed greens

For the Dressing

  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 small shallot
  • 1 Tbsp honey or agave
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

For the Salad

Toss together couscous, pepper, corn, chicken, cheese, currants, green onions and pecans.

Top greens with couscous mixture.

Drizzle with sweet basil dressing.

For the Dressing

Combine all ingredients in blender or small food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Taste and adjust flavors if desired.

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daily eats: 5.31.12

The short week is coming to a close! Who is looking forward to the weekend? I’m headed back to work on Sunday, but I’m looking forward to a little relaxing tomorrow!

5.31.12

Beverages: Coffee + coconut creamer. I’m trying to wean myself off of the 1/2 & 1/2 but I’m not sure how long it will last. :) 1/2 & 1/2 tastes SO much better!

Breakfast 1: Yesterday I tried a new juice, and only drank half of it, so this morning I needed to finish the rest of the bottle. I’ve been keeping a few of the evolution vegetable juices around for busy mornings – they are cold pressed and not pasteurized so almost as good as making it from scratch!

Workout: 45 minute spin class

Breakfast 2: 1 slice whole wheat bread with earth balance + 1 egg.

Breakfast 2.5: Breakfasts 1 and 2 weren’t enough after spinning so I snacked on a bag of almonds, cashews and cranberries.

Snack 1: My version of Starbuck’s Double Shot. This iced coffee contained: 1 shot of espresso, 2 tsp agave (way too much), skim milk and 1/2 & 1/2. I need to work on the proportions but do you know this drink? I used to be obsessed with it.

Lunch: I’ve been trying to recreate one of our favorite salads from Trader Joe’s – I should have the recipe for you next week! The salad contains greens, couscous, chicken, etc. and a sweet basil salad dressing.

Snack: This afternoon I acted as nanny/driver for my 7 year-old cousin which involved a trip to Barnes & Noble for her schools book fair. I snacked on part of a thinkThin bar in between the aisles of the children’s section. :)

Dinner: Because we didn’t get home until 9pm, cooking dinner was not really an option so we grabbed sandwiches from Mendocino Farms on the way home. I had the pork belly bahn mi and some chips – amazing! Can’t wait to try more of their sandwiches.

 

Next daily eats post is going to have a theme – but you tell me what you would like to see – Juice Fast (never tried one) or Jillian Michaels Making the Cut Plan – or let me know if there is something else you would like to see!

Have a wonderful weekend friends!