How to Order Real Food at a Restaurant

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m posting some tips on ordering real food while you are traveling. As many know, it is normally difficult to find real food at fast-food restaurant chains (Applebees, Subway, Ruby Tuesdays, Five Guys) when you are in a new place and are unsure of the ingredients your meal. Though it is a bit more work to “hunt” for real food on the menu, it is typically in the end worth it. This summer, for example, my family and I are traveling cross-country on a road trip, and I know that it will be difficult to find real food in some restaurants.

One time, I was at a restaurant for dinner. Knowing that the menu was definitely not real food approved, I had to ask a lot of questions. I ended up finding that the “whole-grain buns” they served had artificial additives (food dyes, artificial sweeteners, bread conditioners, chemicals such as azodicarbonamide, and preservatives) and was sweetened mainly with high-fructose corn syrup. However, I problem solved, and ended up having a delicious dinner. Instead of a bun, I swapped for a lettuce leaf (to make my own “lettuce wraps”), and I chose to get plain grilled chicken with tomatoes and broccoli. I made lettuce wraps out of the different sides, and it was delicious! Here are some tips on how I order real food at restaurants.

1. Order plain sides and ingredients to make your own meals! Sides such as baked potatoes, unseasoned meats, and fruits and vegetables without sauce are typically a good bet.

2. Ask questions about your food. Talk to the waitress about what’s made in the restaurant and what’s store-bought. Store-bought breads and pastas may have unnecessary additives.

3. Avoid the sauces and seasonings. Many sauces made in restaurants have excessive amounts of sugar and corn syrup, as well as artificial flavorings. Instead, season with vegetables you can order as a side, like onions.

4. Choose restaurants wisely. Chances are that restaurants like McDonalds will have less options for real food than restaurants like Ruby Tuesdays. Though it is difficult to order real food at both, sit-down chains have more side options that can be used to make a mostly real-food meal. Also, look for restaurants that are not a chain and are privately owned- they often have larger varieties of real food.

5. Pack real food snacks as substitutes. Lara bars, bags of homemade granola and trail mix, dried fruit, organic applesauce pouches, and whole-grain crackers (like Triscuits) are great options. Pack a few snacks in your bag just in case there are limited real food options.

Thanks, and please share! 🙂

Foodie Detective- Are These Foods Really Healthy?

Hi Everyone!

Today I’m posting some controversial “healthy” foods. Many big food production companies create packaging for food that makes people think they are eating something a lot healthier than it actually is. This contributes to human obesity, because people trying to lose weight are fooled by the packaging.

However, healthy and organic food is much more minimally processed. It has fewer ingredients, no refined wheat or sugar, and it is typically made locally on a farm. Food from farmers markets and grocery stores such as Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes is typically organic, with a few exceptions of foods that have large amounts of sugar. So, here are some examples of real, organic food and creatively packaged junk food.

1. Quaker “Chewy” Granola Bars– This packaged food is very deceiving because it is so unhealthy. The box claims that is a wholesome, healthy snack because it has 25% less sugar. However, a company can add artificial sweeteners (Splenda, for example) to a product and say that it is not sugar, so this really doesn’t make the bar nutritional.

2. Strawberry Delight Frosted Mini-Wheats- Though this may seem like a filling whole-grain breakfast, it really is not that healthy. These bite-size biscuits are covered in sugar and artificial strawberry flavoring, along with artificial food dyes and sweeteners. I would most definitely categorize this cereal as unhealthy.

3. Lara Bars- These bars are one of my absolute favorite store-bought real foods. Most of the bars have as little as four ingredients or less! Not to mention, they can be found at many grocery stores, including mainstream supermarkets such as Market Basket and Target.

4. Cascadian Farms Oats and Honey Granola- This granola is definitely difficult to categorize as healthy or unhealthy. Though it is whole grain and a better cereal option, it has a very high amount of sugar. Overall, it is better to make your own granola at home with organic ingredients and no sugar. 100 Days of Real Food has a great recipe.