I am so excited to share my strategy for eating out while eating clean. Let’s define clean first. Clean eating is eating real food that has been properly prepared and is known to be nutrient dense. I have been eating this way for many years so I have had to learn through trial and error all the tricks to getting a clean meal at a restaurant and which restaurants I can trust along the way. It doesn’t seem so hard now but I can remember when I first started, it was the most daunting thing about eating out. Now I feel confident I can go into any restaurant and find something to eat. I have yet to starve.
I know not everyone will be local to me but this guide will include places I have personally eaten. I will be giving the criteria for each meal I chose at these establishments so hopefully you can translate them into any place you might visit.
Let’s dive in!
My picks for a quick, inexpensive meal are Newk’s and Chipotle. At Newk’s I love to get their Shrimp & Avocado Salad. It comes with a dozen broiled shrimp, avocado, arugula, tangy feta cheese, sweet grape tomatoes, green onions and a lemon basil vinaigrette but I use regular oil & vinegar they provide at their awesome condiments station. I like to add peperoncinos to my salad as well. Sometimes I will ask them to hold the feta but I can tolerate it on occasion.
Probably the one place I frequent the most when I need to get a quick bite to eat is Chipotle. I can trust their food is fresh, responsibly sourced and delicious. Plus, they are like Subway for the clean eater, meaning you can find one in almost any city. When I go to Chipotle I will always get a salad, hold the dressing. I add either Carnitas or Chicken, white cilantro-lime rice if I feel up to it or if I had a grueling workout that day, fajita vegetables, pico, red and green chili salsa and a side of guac. My salsas serve as my dressing. This is a favorite for sure.
I have a couple of options for a date night or a business lunch/dinner. I love the food scene in Austin so I chose it for my first pick.There is a Thai restaurant that has an amazing selection of gluten free foods and desserts. They even offer dairy free ice cream that’s pretty mind blowing. I hesitate to tell others about this amazing place because I don’t want it to get crowded but I can’t stop talking about it so here goes. The name is Thai Fresh. I love the curries here but my go to is their Spicy Basil Fried Rice or “Kao Pad Kra Prow”. It comes with Thai chilies, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and Thai Basil which is pure deliciousness. Again, you can’t go wrong with a curry here either but you must try one of their many desserts and I highly recommend the Peanut Butter Fudge Pie which is gluten, dairy and soy free as well as vegan! It is heavenly! One more great thing about Thai Fresh is they are a tip free establishment, meaning they pay their staff a living wage higher than the industry standard. The also give their staff paid sick days and health insurance. Gotta love a company that takes care of it’s tribe!
Ok, my next pick for date night or business lunch is McAdoo’s Seafood Company. I love this place for their service. They know how to make an experience out of dining. They have a lovely patio with live music and a great outdoor bar. Inside is a unique atmosphere because it used to be the town’s post office back in the day. The have a beautiful indoor bar called the Treasury Bar with a wine list you will definitely enjoy exploring. They specialize in Creole Cuisine and their fresh fish is delivered daily. My favorite at McAdoo’s is their Stacked Seafood Salad. It comes with lobster, jumbo crab, shrimp, avocado, romaine lettuce, tomatoes and I use an oil & vinegar for dressing. It is a great protein packed meal. One of the best parts of McAdoo’s is their oyster bar! They have nearly every kind of oyster you can imagine and you can order them individually to be sure you get to try them all.
One last pick and it’s a breakfast/brunch option. The place is called The Downtowner. It has a menu featuring grass-fed burgers, steak & eggs and much more. They source their food from local Texas farms and it shows in the quality. My go to at The Downtowner is the Duck Egg Plate. That’s right DUCK EGG. It is so rich and creamy, just like you’d imagine a happy duck’s egg to taste. It is served with hash browns, bacon or sausage and toast or a biscuit. I skip the toast or biscuit because I eat gluten free but this place is known for it’s amazing biscuits so if you can indulge, do it. Eating is about pleasure too you know. Next time I go I’m wanting to try their Avocado Toast plate so I’ll keep y’all posted on that experience.
Obviously eating out is not something I encourage anyone to do often. I would say maybe 4-5 times a month is a good amount to try to stick to but I know many have busy lives or jobs that require travel so they have to eat out much more than that. Here are my guidelines for eating out especially if it’s your “norm”.
- Choose a place that sources their food well. This will require some pre-planning work but you need to know that your food will not be full of toxins, GMOs or antibiotics.
- Do as you would at home and choose a protein, complex carbohydrate and a fat. Try to include this breakdown at every meal.
- Eat real food. Bread is not a plant or animal. It is the processing of a plant stripped of its vital nutrients. Your food should not have ingredients; your food should be ingredients.
- Be mindful of what your food is cooked with and how it is cooked. Ask about the types of oils used and ask to have your food prepared with real butter. Most kitchens will be stocked with real butter. Don’t let your veggies be overcooked. A light steam or even raw veggies is the preferred preparation.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Most restaurants don’t mind accommodating you if you ask nicely and keep a level head about mistakes.
- And the number one thing to remember is to put your phone down. Engage in conversation and be mindful when you eat. Try not to eat rushed and stop to take a deep breath before you pick up your fork. Say a sincere “thank you” for your food and appreciate the time it took someone else to prepare. Simply eating with gratitude can drastically change the way your body responds to the food presented to it.
Well, there you go. If anyone wants to do some “field research” with me, I’d be happy to explore with you. If you have any suggestions on places I should try, pass them along in the comments below and I’ll let you know if I get to try it. If you enjoyed this blog post please leave me a comment below. It really helps to know my work is being read and enjoyed. XOXO