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Healthy Take Out

April 16, 2010

Tonight is Friday night, my “rest day” from the gym and Z’s “rest day” from law school. After a hard week, all we want to do is come home and relax. We sit down on the couch.

Z: “So, what do you want to do for dinner?”
Me: “I have *such and such* meal planned”
Z: “Do you want to cook?”
Me: “…..”

I love cooking. It is relaxing, fun, and creative. But there are those days, when I even know the meal I have in my head will take 20 minutes to throw together, when my let’s eat healthy vibe goes out the window and I dream of Chinese takeout or chicken wings (have you notices I haven’t eaten wings in forever?! I am so sad!).

When eating at a nice restaurant I order whatever I feel like; I am spending good money on amazing food, and I could personally care less if it is soaked in cream and butter. But takeout, for me, is different.  Its the “this salad is worse for you than this hamburger” phenomenon. Am I eating something good, or is there secret mystery meat and bags of salt under that broccoli?

Through a little research, I have come up with a few basic guidelines so when I am looking at a takeout menu I have a bit more of an idea what I’m getting myself in to:

-When in doubt, go vegetarian. If you want meat, pick the chicken or shrimp first.
-Black beans > refried beans (this one kills me. I love refried beans!)
-Try to add extra veggies to any meal. Load up burritos with salsa and lettuce. Ask for more broccoli in your chow mein. Vegetables on your pizza.
-Swiss/mozzarella cheese > cheddar and American
-Treat yourself to guacamole instead of cheese and sour cream. Healthy fats and more vegetables!
-Fall in love with the words steamed, roasted and broiled. They are your friends.
-Sauce is not your enemy. The amount of sauce can be your enemy. It can always go on the side.
-Balance your choices. You don’t need a giant burger, soda, and fries. How about the burger with a salad and water? Or split some fries with a friend instead.

Needless to say, we decided to get takout for dinner tonight.

A new place, Garlic ‘n Lemons, opened down the street from us last week. It is a Mediterranean inspired take out place, with fresh schwarma, Greek salads, spinach pies, and all of the hummus and babaganoush  you could dream of. It is a bit pricey, though, $6.50 for a roll-up (which was pretty small) and a whopping $10.50 for a plate with schwarma on it. I went for the vegetarian trio, where you can pick any 3 veggie apps you want.

I got the Greek salad, rice stuffed grape leaves, and Mousaka (eggplant and chickpeas). Oh my it was good! Everything was light and incredibly fresh. The salad was bright and crisp, and the spices in the Mousaka were amazing. Not bad for $6.99. Z got one of the roll ups and, while it tasted  good, it was about the size of a Sony remote control and probably not worth the $6.50 it cost. For me, quality ingredients surpasses quantity, but I know many guys and college students who do not feel the same way. All in all I felt that I made a very healthy selection, lots of veggies, protein in the chickpeas, and some good carbs with the brown rice in the grape leaves.

What do you look at when you order take out?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2010 7:35 pm

    Yummm! I wish we had a takeout place like that here!

  2. April 16, 2010 10:11 pm

    I look for something that is satisfying, yet something that I can’t get at home. Preferably something unique, too!

  3. April 16, 2010 10:17 pm

    Great tips! I often eat all the veggies out and then add more in the next day if there’s enough for leftovers 🙂

  4. April 16, 2010 10:17 pm

    I only eat out 1-2 times a week, so I typically order what I want and cut calories with appetizers and dessert. I really watch my portions, though. I honestly feel cheated if I don’t get what I want when I’m paying to eat out, so I really control the amount and savor it all! Probably not the best, but I’m being honest!! 🙂

  5. April 17, 2010 9:17 am

    I have been waiting for Garlic and Lemons to open! I can’t wait to give it a try. We get a lot of sushi takeout which is generally healthy… except for that side of curry crab rangoon 🙂

  6. April 17, 2010 4:02 pm

    I try to avoid creamy sauces and mayo (which I hate anyway) and increase the veggies. I also usually go for fish or chicken.

    We had the exact same convo last night. Dinner planned, didn’t want to cook in the end, both tired. Ended up with the take-out as well.

  7. April 17, 2010 7:07 pm

    thanks for the sweet comment re my workout page that you left me on being buff! that was so nice of you!

    anyway i love what you said about sauce. i dont fear it but try to not totally flood my food if it’s basically just a sugar sauce 🙂

    • April 17, 2010 8:21 pm

      I agree! Just a little goes a long way! I think you are doing an amazing job with your training!

  8. April 18, 2010 10:16 am

    I just made some lebanese food last night. Minced lamb with spiced rice, baba ghanoush, and fattoush. Mmmm…

  9. April 18, 2010 11:01 am

    “But takeout, for me, is different. Its the “this salad is worse for you than this hamburger” phenomenon. Am I eating something good, or is there secret mystery meat and bags of salt under that broccoli?” Oh my goodness I could not have said it better myself. I totally agree. It’s the notion that I’m thinking I’m making a good decision but in reality it’s probably a 1700 calorie salad! I hate that part. But in restaurants I do find that my main goal is satisfaction and ordering exactly what I’m craving, regardless of health, calories, etc. I love your philosophies, as I follow many of them!

    This is yet again an example of ways you and I are kindred spirits. I feel the exact same way about food/takeout/homemade/and the notion of health.

    I don’t eat out too often, but when I do it’s usually pizza- which I always always always go all out for. Since it’s one of my absolute favorite things to eat, I never want to sacrifice taste so I get exactly what sounds best. And then the only other food that we order in is Chinese food and that is where I usually get steamed dishes with sauces on the side. I find that these meals are just loaded with more sauce than I would ever want, regardless of what’s in it.

    Great topic, great post, my love!!

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