BY GAVAN MURPHY, OWNER OF SUNDAY PROVISIONS NUT BUTTERS (SUNDAYPROVISIONS.COM)
The new year. is nearly here, and you likely have some health goals. in mind. But they don’t have to come at the cost of your social life. Dry January? More like boring weekends. Sure, you can spend your weekends inside binge-watching to avoid binge drinking, but do you really want to miss date night for a month? Get out and enjoy, because life is about balance. Head to the pub on the weekend, but for this month (actually, any month), incorporate some of these easy menu hacks I’ve learned as a chef.
With some simple requests, you can still enjoy a night out without sabotaging your diet goals. But if you really, truly need to ease any of the guilt, make the next morning a leg day.
ASK AND RECEIVE
No matter where you eat, you’ll have plenty of menu options to choose from—meat or fish, vegetarian or vegan, gluten-free or non-GMO, even Italian or Indian. Whatever your preference, there’s always a way that’s not necessarily on the menu to “healthify” your meals a bit. It’s OK to ask your server how your steak or fish is prepared—request for yours to be grilled or sautéed in olive or coconut oil instead of butter. If opting for fish, your preparer should have no problem steaming it in order to reduce calories. Some chefs may not like having to adjust their dishes for creativity, but most will be more than helpful and willing to accommodate your eating choices.
Keep reading for a few more ways you can make your meals a bit healthier while dining out.
If you’re ordering a dish that requires sauce or salad dressing, always ask for it on the side instead of poured over the meal. With sauces, there’s no such thing as portion control, and most will have extra calories you don’t need. If the sauce is on the side, you control how much you use. An added tip for salad dressing: Ditch the high-calorie ranch or blue cheese and opt for vinaigrette or just balsamic or olive oil.
Vegetables are a must if you’re trying to keep your night healthy. However, make sure that your vegetables aren’t sautéed in oils or butter. Ask the server to steam or grill your vegetables. If that’s too boring for you, squeeze a lemon over the veggies or add just a pinch of sea salt on top.
If your entrée comes with fries, you should probably say no. But if you really want them, ask the server to put them on a side plate and add just a few with your meal. Strange as it sounds, if they’re not readily available on your main plate, you’ll be less inclined to keep reaching for them.
If you’re going to drink, try adding some soda water to white wine. This not only makes your drink last longer, but it has the extra benefit of adding hydration to your weekend cocktail.