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How to keep it clean when dining out

Socialising over food is a part of life, and shouldn’t be the bane of your existence. There are times when you want to indulge and the rules go out the window (that is fine), and there are times where you would like to stick to the rules a little more closely. I eat out once or twice a week for a main meal, and whilst I usually find it relatively easy as I seek out health-oriented cafe’s and restaurants, there is the occasion where I have no control over where we go, or end up somewhere I wouldn’t usually choose. That is often the case when traveling or dining with larger groups! But these occasions don’t need to be avoided entirely, nor do they need to be stressed over. Embrace them and enjoy them for the company and experience, and keep these tips in mind, or in your phone, to gently guide you toward more healthful options.

1. Skip the bread basket, order crudités if on the menu, a veggie based starter to share, or simply olives, if you feel tempted to snack whilst you wait for your meal.

2. Avoid words like creamy, crumbed, crispy, or deep-fried on the menu, it is likely loaded with nasty oils and saturated/trans fats.

3. Let them know you are dairy-intolerant – vegan or not, there is no need for milk, milk powders/solids in your sauces and mains. This also means steering clear of creamy based dressings and sauces which often contain other undesirables like preservatives, thickeners and unhealthy fats etc. Find out why I choose to avoid dairy here.

4. Ask if they can cook in less oil, or use extra-virgin olive oil/coconut oil instead of butter (for vegans/dairy-free) or other vegetable oils.

5. Request dressings and even sauces on the side. Ask for a lemon, balsamic vinegar, tahini or avocado to compensate.

6. Order a bunch of side vegetables as a main – a balanced meal can often be created from a side of sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, steamed greens, grains, side salad etc. Alternatively, see what produce ingredients they use in their other dishes and single out one or two you would like e.g. avocado, quinoa or beans, to add to your sides. This is also a great tip if you are vegan and there is no suitable plant-based option.

7. Ask if they have a vegetarian / vegan menu – these often exist, and are often healthier as veggies are the star of the show! They also tend to be grouped together with other diet-specific requirements i.e. gluten-free, refined sugar-free too.

8. Skip the fries and double the veggies or see if they will steam you some rice or sweet potato instead, if craving something more starch-based. NB: sometimes I do have the fries, moderation 😉

9. At Asian restaurants, see if they have gluten-free Tamari sauce available in place of soy sauce for a happier tummy. Be wary of the sugar used in some sushi-rice, ask if they would be open to swapping for steamed rice, however this might not always be possible.

Enjoy your food, but mostly the dining experience and the company you keep! There is no perfect, and your body can tolerate less-than-ideal choices from time to time 🙂

Healthy Snacks Available at the Supermarket

I thought I would do something a little different for you – I took 20 mins to browse the health food aisle at Woolworths & sourced the best on-the-go snacks on offer I give my tick of approval ✔️ Decent, affordable and accessible snacks that you can reach for when out & about with little time!

 
I tell my clients to find a few favourites – 1-2 sweet, 1-2 savoury, that they can pick up & pop in their bag for later, so that office snacks don’t become tempting These are all around $2-4, gluten-free, vegan, refined-sugar-free & most importantly artificial flavour/preservative and vegetable oil free (which is soo difficult to find! Particularly with dips)… Just FYI the Well Naturally chocolate bar has a little sugar alcohol in it, but total sugar is only 0.6/100g. If you have difficulty digesting sugar alcohols, i.e. follow FODMAPS, avoid, but this is definitely one of the best treat options available, in my opinion.

 
Craving crunch or something salty? Choose the crackers or carrot + dip. A mars bar? Try the sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate. Cake? The Emma & Toms life bar or Soma Bite! Ice cream or a milk shake? Chia pudding w blueberries. Fizzy drinks? Kombucha! Something light? A piece of fruit or cold-pressed green juice. Easy, good-for-you swaps!
I’ll do the same for Coles shortly!!

Healthy Replacements for all your favourites

ELIMINATE: red meat, eggs, dairy, gluten/wheat, refined sugar and caffeine…

For some, these words are absurd. Others, are subtly aware (deep within them) that they were a long time coming. For most, it is completely overwhelming.

When I tell my clients to eliminate certain foods from their diet, it is my priority to replace those foods with healthy alternatives. My goal is to not only offer a more nutritious option, but an item/s that taste similar and/or better, making the transition far easier and less daunting than initially thought.

The truth is, we all love to have our unhealthy habits or choices confirmed – we like to be told that a glass or two of red wine each night is good for us, that “butter is back”, that we need to eat cheese and ice cream because… well, calcium! But the second you start to question that, the overwhelm sets in and cutting out these staples, that so many of us have grown up on, seems unbearable. Impossible. Cruel! Well, I am here to tell you, it isn’t so bad. Here are some suggestions I put forward in my plight to have my clients and readers, not only looking better, but feeling a whole lot more lighter, energetic and clear-headed…

Instead of coffee:

Order an almond or coconut milk chai tea, hold the sugar – ask if they have Natvia instead or carry some in your purse. Extra cinnamon please!

Most cafe’s these days have alternatives like matcha, turmeric, or chai lattes. Swap your regular milk for a plant-based option, and be sure to ask what it is sweetened with. Again, if it is sugar, ask for it unsweetened and add your own BYO Natvia. 

At home, try making my hot cacao, or your own turmeric latte.

Instead of dairy:

Swap dairy milk with plant-based options – almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, soy milk (definitely organic and non-GMO). *A note on soy… we are all so quick to dismiss it as having “too much oestrogen”, but may I remind you the biological and often synthetic oestrogen in cows milk, as it comes from a pregnant cow obviously producing her own hormones however additionally often injected with hormones… compared to the natural, weak phytoestrogens found in the soy bean. Just think about that for a moment. Read here for more on soy and oestrogen.*

Cheese – nut-based cheeses, for creamy pasta sauces add coconut milk, pumpkin puree or soaked cashews with nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese and is AMAZING for you), sprinkle nutritional yeast on a salad, instead of adding fetta or goats cheese, add avocado for the same creamy, “fatty” addition, cheese cake can be made with soaked cashews as a base.

Yoghurt – Coconut yoghurt, almond yoghurt – check ingredients for added sugar, cashew or coconut cream.

Also check out my post on going dairy-free, here.

Instead of gluten/wheat:

Grains – Brown, basmati or wild rice, Quinoa, Millet, Amaranth, Teff, Buckwheat;

Bread – Sprouted bread varieties, DIY your own bread, or choose a gluten-free option (check ingredients for eggs if avoiding, sugar, and additives you can’t pronounce);

Crackers – flax crackers, rice crackers, corn or rice thins, buckwheat crackers, seed crackers;

Pasta – Quinoa pasta, rice pasta, Konjac noodles, Zucchini pasta, kelp noodles, 100% buckwheat soba noodles;

Flours – Almond meal, Buckwheat flour, Coconut flour, Teff flour, Chia flour, Banana flour.

Instead of red meat:

Tempeh, lentils, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, rice, portobello mushrooms, stuffed veggies… some meal ideas:

Tempeh stir-fry with or without brown rice; Mixed Bean salad with roast veg + avo; Stuffed sweet potatoes with beans, cashew cheese, guacamole; Quinoa salad with roast veg and roast tamari pumpkin seeds; Stuffed capsicums with rice/teff and lentils; Stuffed mushrooms with quinoa, capsicum and capers, Zucchini pasta with lentil bolognese, Cauliflower rice with chickpeas, almonds and greens, Mushroom and lentil san choy bow, Cauliflower mash with peas and mushroom gravy….

Instead of eggs:

Breakfast options – smoothies, chia pudding, bircher muesli, oat porridge, quinoa porridge, pea protein powders (I like Nuzest), Avocado smash or hummus and mushrooms on gluten-free toast, breakfast salad of quinoa, sauteed greens and mushrooms, roast tomatoes, avocado and pumpkin/sweet potato and pepita’s;

Cooking – flax egg, arrowroot, tapioca flour, chia, chia flour, mashed banana, water or almond milk

Order out – if there is a big vegetarian brekky with eggs, ask for it without eggs but add extra veggies, avocado or sweet potato to bulk it up or opt for the porridge options (there is always is one!) with a dairy-free milk.

Instead of sugary snacks or treats:

All homemade or health-food store bought treats made with stevia/xylitol OR coconut nectar, maple syrup, dates

Bliss balls, DIY muesli bars, DIY granola, Cacao/turmeric lattes (as above), Raw chocolate (In Aus, Pana chocolate is a good brand, Well naturally from Woolies, or see if you can get your hands on BSKT vegan chocolate), or make your own raw choc, Cacao smoothie, Berry smoothie, Chocolate or coconut/berry based chia pudding, Vegan pancakes, Strawberry Chia Jam, Avocado chocolate mousse.

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