Friday, January 3, 2014

Try This Trick When Dining Out Diet to Help You Lose Weight

Heading to a nice dinner this weekend to continue your New Year's celebration?  You can still maintain your 2014 weight loss resolution and enjoy your evening out with this simple tip that has helped me drop more than 50 pounds and keep it off for more than a decade.

What is it?  When it comes to ordering your food, think two....appetizers that is.  Order an appetizer, salad, soup or side as your, well, appetizer and another appetizer as your entree.

We know that restaurant portions are way too big.  Appetizer portions are just about right and, many times, more interesting than entree offerings.  If your dining companion is eating a full entree with side items, have a bite or two.  It's much more fun to share AND you won't miss the extra calories of a full portion.

Here are some real world examples:

Al Biernat's Menu
Al Biernat's is one of my favorite splurge spots.  When I was pregnant, I ate an entire order of their fabulous macaroni & cheese AND au gratín potatoes.  In one sitting.  Yep.  It was heaven.  I digress.  They have a diverse starter and salad menu.  Here are a few "healthier dinner" options:

  • Mozzarella, Amelia's Farm Tomato, Avocado, Basil, Balsamic Demi salad to start followed by Steamed P.E.I. Mussels & Littleneck Clams in White Wine (my personal favorite)
  • Soup of the Day followed by Teriyaki Marinated Natural Texas Quail, Roasted Mushrooms & Pickled Ginger
  • Baked Goat Cheese, Portabella Mushrooms & Sweet Garlic with Al's Salad (another favorite).  
I employ this approach consistently at Al Biernat's and am always satisfied.  Al's is wonderful but not something we can afford to do every week. 

Let's look at a place like Hillstone (which I still call Houston's).   I actually order two side items every time I visit: the kale salad along with black beans and rice.  It's one of my favorite meals and, at $12, is a substantial and healthy option.  Here are some others: 

  • Focaccia bread plate followed by the Grilled Artichoke. 
  • Couscous and seasonal vegetables, ordered together.     
Craving Italian?  Maggiano's Little Italy, anyone?  They have a ton of great options: 

Courtesy Maggiano's Little Italy
  • You could start with one of their side items like that Asparagus, Spinach or Broccolini (ask them to go light on the oil) and have the side order of Angel Hair Aglio Olio as an entree
  • Tuscan Chicken Sausage & Orzo Soup followed by the Tomato Caprese salad.
  • Bruschetta followed by the Jumbo Lump Crabcakes
  • Start with Stuffed Mushrooms and have the Chicken & Roasted Pepper Flatbread
These are just examples.  You get the idea.  Try this approach once or twice and you'd be surprise at how you won't miss an entree when you dine out.  

Double Bonus?  This approach is friendlier on the wallet.  Eating sides and appetizers is normally less expensive than eating entrees.

Interestingly, I examined restaurants like Applebee's and Chili's.  Their appetizer options were consistently fried or cheese-filled items.  In this instance, it would make sense to stick with an entree from their "light" menu or a salad (hold the dressing - eat with salsa or vinegar) and enjoy one of those items.  The portions are still big, so I suggest taking some of it home.

Thank you for reading!  Have a great weekend. 
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