Even if you know to steer clear of the bread basket, it turns out the average restaurant meal clocks in at a whopping 1,128 calories—yep, 1,128—making it easy for even the most health-savvy among us to think we’re eating well while eating out, when we’re not.
Last time, it was what to eat at a conference room lunch. This week, it’s raw and vegan restaurants! Here’s what you need to know before you pick up the seemingly healthy menu.
Heather Bauer’s café menu navigational nugget
If you follow any one rule, make it this one: don’t go for dishes that are trying to mimic meat alternatives, like a vegan lasagna or meatless buffalo wings, as “many of these dishes are loaded with gluten, fat, oil, and sodium,” Bauer warns.
Other culinary need-to-knows? If you’re not a raw foodie or vegan, “be wary of ordering too much avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut, and nut butters” she says. “These ingredients are often used for fat choices for vegans, and if you’re not one, the caloric density of the meal can be way too much for you.”
WHAT TO EAT
1. Leafy greens salad or a winter chopped salad— seasonal favorites.
2. Veggie ceviche—lightly pickled veggies or mushrooms thinly sliced with citrus and spices.
3. Superfood salads—Always a smart choice—just not loaded overloaded with faux cheese or too many nuts.
1. Macro bowl—sautéed or steamed seasonal greens, delicious when served with quinoa, some roasted or sea veggies, and organic tofu. (Just watch the dressing, which could have hidden fats.)
2. Grilled kale salad—ask for a sprinkling of pine nuts. Or a Warm Brussels sprout salad in a light dressing.
3. A veggie-centric entree, built around simply prepared grilled or roasted cauliflower or Portobello mushroom, for example. Grains, beans, or carbs can play back up.
WHAT TO SKIP
1. Anything with cashew cream—You might as well be ordering a cheese sauce. Sorry!
2. Fake meat dishes—That means fried “chicken” legs to spaghetti and wheat balls. What you’re not eating in animal protein you’re often getting in soy and gluten, both of which can be hard on digestion.
3. Pasta. Unless the noodles are literally zucchini or spaghetti squash, you’re just eating a bowl of delicious yet carbo-loaded noodles.