Fajitas are always a good choice. I wouldn’t eat more than 1 flour tortilla, and if you’ve eaten the tasty tortilla chips that they put on the table, then skip the tortilla all together. The portions are always too big, so either save half for lunch the next day, or share with someone
Top your Mexican food with Guacamole, Salsa and Pico de Gallo, and skip the cheese and sour cream.
If you skip the tortilla chips and the flour tortilla then use beans as your carbohydrate for the meal.
Chicken or Fish Taco’s on corn tortillas are an okay option as well. Not the deep fried crispy version, but the soft version.
Many Mexican restaurants have an entrée called Aroz Con Pollo. It is chicken sautéed with lots of veggies. It comes with beans so this is a complete meal. But once again, only eat half, and skip the tortillas and use the beans as your carb.
Fajita or Taco Salads are another option, but skip the sour cream and cheese and use a vinaigrette, or Pico de Gallo as your dressing.
Every Italian restaurant has plenty of chicken and fish options that are low in fat and relatively healthy choices. All salads, just add a protein of choice: grilled shrimp & scallops, grilled chicken, Grilled, broiled or baked salmon.
If you choose pasta as a side dish or your main entrée see if they have whole wheat pasta (macaroni grill and olive garden offer this). In addition, choose a sauce that is not cream based (Alfredo) for your pasta and/or your chicken or fish such as: Marsala, Picatta, Francese, or Marinara.
These restaurants all have a roasted potato option instead of pasta, and offer steamed vegetables. If you have a salad, skip the cheese and croutons and choose a vinaigrette dressing on the side.
Avoid the fried noodles, egg rolls, crab Rangoon and anything else fried. Instead, choose a spring roll or steamed dumplings.
Soups such as egg drop, and hot and sour are an acceptable option as well.
Choose dishes rich in vegetables, and ask for the sauce on the side.
Many places will even steam your meat and vegetables and bring your sauce on the side.
There is not a big difference between white rice and fried rice as they are both white, not brown rice choices. If you are at one of the rare Chinese restaurants that serve brown rice, choose this. You can also choose rice noodles as a side option. Because these are refined, eat a very small amount. It helps to eat your veggies and meat first so you’re not as likely to fill up on the refined stuff. (Ex: Chicken with mixed vegetables steamed with garlic sauce on the side.) Stay away from the General Tso’s and Sweet ‘n Sour options, as they are both deep fried.
Any steamed, grilled or broiled fish is fine. Avoid fried.
Avoid the butter on the side; instead use fresh lemon or cocktail sauce for shrimp, crab and fish.
Most seafood restaurants have a baked potato and steamed vegetable side dish option. Skip butter and sour cream on your baked potato and try salsa or BBQ sauce instead. If you have to, use only a teaspoon of sour cream. You’re only going to end up eating ½ the baked potato and saving the other half. You can also choose roasted potatoes or garlic mashed, but only eat half.
If you get a salad skip the cheese and croutons and choose vinaigrette on the side.
Avoid Alfredo and other cream based sauces.
(Red Lobster: Aztec Chicken, Apple Walnut Chicken Salad w/dressing on the side, and broiled or grilled fish with steamed broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes. Remember: These are big portions so only eat ½ and skip the cheddar biscuits.)
(Joey’s Seafood & Grill: Shrimp Cocktail, Southwestern shrimp salad, lobster and seafood salad, blue crab salad, southwestern chicken salad, Asian sesame shrimp, Cajun combo, mixed grill, Snow crab legs, Charbroiled halibut, citrus Mahi Mahi, Asian sesame salmon, Charbroiled chicken or fish. Avoid the cheese and croutons, dressing on the side. Avoid the garlic butter and instead choose: cocktail sauce, salsa Blanca, mango & mandarin orange salsa, apricot, Asian sesame or Pico de Gallo sauce. You can choose a smaller portion with many of their entrees.)
Wheat or buckwheat pancake Wheat toast or fresh fruit.
Skip the cheese. Cottage cheese with seasonal fruit.
Skip the egg replacements; no one seems to know what they really are. If you want you can choose egg whites if you want to cut the fat. No margarine or sugar free syrup, they’re loaded with artificial ingredients. (IHOP, First Watch)
Locals and Chain Restaurant Food Choices: Follow the same concepts from above.
Applebee’s: Teriyaki Shrimp skewers, Italian Chicken Portobello sandwich; blackened chicken salad, Tortilla Chicken Melt, Asian Chicken Salad, Cajun Lime Tilapia. ½ portions of any of these are plenty.
Houlihan’s: Lettuce wraps, Spicy Thai BBQ Shrimp, Tuna Wontons, Grilled veggie flat bread, Tuscan Salmon, Single Breast grilled rosemary chicken, grilled shrimp, BBQ Salmon Salad, Chicken Asian Chopped Salad, Mandarin Grilled Chicken Salad.
Max & Erma’s: Black Bean Roll-Ups, Asian Pot Stickers, Tropical Stacked Salad, Hula Bowl, Shrimp Stack Salad, Baby Greens Salad, Tropical Salmon, Jerk Pork Chops, Fajitas, Singapore Salmon, Lemon Herb Alaska Halibut, Caribbean Chicken. Choose fresh steamed veggies, dry baked potato with salsa or bbq sauce, herb rice, or fruit salad as healthy sides.
Ethyl’s Smokehouse: Smoked Chicken Caesar without the Caesar dressing: choose honey mustard, light ranch or fat free Italian on the side. Oil and Vinegar are usually your best option as many of the pre-made dressings have scary ingredients in them. Grilled Chicken Caesar wrap with the dressing on the side. Ethyl’s ham sandwich, grilled chicken or chicken salad on whole wheat. Smoked ½ chicken, Grilled chicken breast with white wine cream sauce on the side. Sides: mashed potatoes, sweet potato, corn on the cob (this is a carb, not a vegetable), steamed vegetables, fruit cup, baked potato, roasted apples, potato salad, apple sauce.
I’m really reluctant to add this section because who knows where the ingredients come from or
what they use. With this said, I know many of you will visit the fast food restaurant anyway, so I’ll do my best to look the other way and help you make healthier choices.
I’ve put the “Losers are Winners” apple by my preferred choices.
Fazoli’s: Small spaghetti with meat sauce, spaghetti with marina and add peppery chicken or garlic shrimp, broccoli and tomatoes. Grilled chicken Panini, chicken and fruit salad, parmesan chicken salad. (Choose honey mustard, light ranch or fat free Italian as dressing.)
McDonald’s: Asian Chicken Salad, or Southwest Chicken Salad (skip the fried tortilla strips). They use Newman’s Own dressings, which are all natural.
Crazy Bowls & Wraps: Choose brown rice and white meat and wraps with grilled chicken. You may substitute a wheat wrap. Choose one of their power bowls with chicken or salmon and brown rice.
Chipotle: Grilled chicken salad with vinaigrette on the side and a side of black or pinto beans. (This is definitely enough for two people or two meals.)
Subway: Load your ½ sandwich on wheat bread with whatever veggies you’re willing to eat and skip the cheese. Instead of mayo choose spicy mustard, red wine vinaigrette, or sweet onion sauce. They also have spinach salads and you could ask for apples on the side.
St. Louis Bread Company: You pick two: salad with meat and a soup that’s not cream based, and ask for the apple as your side. You could also do a ½ sandwich on whole grain and salad.
Arby’s: Grilled Chicken sandwich (no mayo), ½ market fresh sandwich, grilled chicken salad with a baked potato with bbq sauce or salsa.
Jimmy John’s: Beach club on whole wheat with no cheese or mayo. Eat only half for the ladies, unless you have a huge hand. You could order any sandwich with ham, turkey or roast beef on wheat, or on a lettuce wrap if you’d like to add fruit as your carbohydrate. Add sprouts,
guacamole, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and any spices you like, just skip the cheese and mayo.
**all of the above restaurants have the nutrition information on their websites.