My birthday was this past Tuesday, so I’ve been busy busy busy. Birthday celebrations inevitably mean eating out… at restaurants… with dishes prepared with who knows what ingredients. As someone with dietary restrictions, eating out can be quite daunting, especially for the health-conscious among us. However, it is possible to eat, drink, and be merry while still being healthy. Since my last post, I have gone out to eat three times (which is waaay more than usual). However, in this post, I will break down what I (or we, if you want to join me on this health adventure!) can eat at certain restaurants.
- PF Changs
PF Changs is actually surprisingly good at dealing with food allergies. This restaurant was one of the first in Lexington, KY, to actually offer a gluten free menu. The GF menu is built into the standard menu, so you don’t have to go through the trouble/eye roll of asking for the GF menu. If you inform your waiter that you are GF, they will bring special sauces to the table (remember, soy sauce contains gluten! Tamari is a soy sauce substitute that does not contain gluten). If you tell your server all your dietary restrictions, they can actually print out an index of what you can and cannot eat and bring it to the table… like I said, PF Changs definitely gets an A+ for being accommodating for special diets. From the GF menu, we ordered the GF Chicken Lettuce Wraps, GF Changs Spicy Chicken, and Chicken Fried Rice without egg. Keep in mind that sometimes you can get their meats without the egg marinade, but often they have already marinaded the meat in a sauce that contains egg. Just a thought for those with egg allergies. See their GF menu online here.
- Bella Notte (local Italian restaurant)
Bella Notte is another restaurant with a GF menu; however, unlike PF Changs, you will have to request this one (and some of the waiters, like the one I had on Monday, may not know about it… but I promise it exists). I ordered the Pasta Arrabiata, a dish with marinara sauce, red chiles, olive oil, lemon juice, and basil. I added chicken to this dish for some protein. It’s incredibly delicious, pasta is such a treat when you’re GF.
- Mexican Restaurant
Since every Mexican restaurant in town has the same menu, I’ll just be general. My go to dish at Mexican restaurants is the chicken fajitas. I almost never eat the rice and beans (which are often topped with cheese) that come with it, but the grilled chicken, vegetables, and peppers are divine. I’m sure to order it without sour cream, but still get the guacamole. Since the normal tortillas are wheat based, you can order corn tortillas or use the chips to make wraps or “nachos” with the fajita meat. Plus, they give you so much food that you’ll always have leftovers (=easy lunch the next day).
There you have it- while going out can be difficult while trying to eat healthy, it can be done. But always try to consume the majority of your meals at home, as it is the only way to guarantee what is going into your food. I always feel heavier and more full when I eat out, even if I order the healthiest thing possible. I think the biggest piece of advice I can give about restaurants is avoid dairy. Everything in restaurants is discretely drenched in butter, cheese, cream, and all those other fatty, heavily caloric ingredients that will weigh you down (in more ways than one!). Also, alcohol with moderation! At two of the above meals, I enjoyed one drink (wine at one, a margarita at the other). When in doubt, always stick with wine (preferably red, for the antioxidant and health benefits). Wine is the only alcoholic drink that doesn’t make my stomach feel bloated or sour during or the day after. Don’t get me wrong, I love wine… but I love food even more, so I’d rather eat my delicious calories than gulp them down!
When in doubt, think “What Would Nika Eat?” (WWNE, can we make that a thing?) Or hell, text or email me and ask me yourself!