Tag Archives: healthy eating tips

Q & A with Nu-train Nutritionist Dara Godfrey

I have a very special guest on the blog today, Nu-train Nutritionist Dara Godfrey, RD.

After I finished my marathon, I realized my portions (and pants size) had expanded, and I really wanted an objective opinion of my diet, and some suggestions and strategies to improve it—so I could feel my best whether training for an endurance event or not.

I picked Nu-train because it was recommended by Physique 57, where I was a member at the time. (In fact, Dara will be representing Nu-train at a Physique event on 5/17—details to follow.) From the moment we sat down, Dara’s passion and knowledge of food and nutrition was evident and incredibly contagious! She had innumerable great ideas for improving my diet without giving up what I love.  So of course I was thrilled when Dara said she would be happy to do an Q and A interview on my blog!

Thank you so much Dara and welcome to FitnessNYC…

1. If you could only recommend one step toward improving one’s health and diet, what would it be?

Being prepared and planning ahead. Always meal plan!

Try and think of when and where you’ll be eating and then plan your meal accordingly. Do you know you’re going to a restaurant for lunch or dinner? – why not go on menupages.com to check out the menu and plan ahead of time what you’ll be eating. Do you know you’ll be eating dinner more than 4 hours after you have lunch and will be out running errands in the afternoon? – why not plan on packing a small snack in your purse like an apple and Justin’s 100 calorie nut-butter (www.justinsnutbutter.com) for a quick on-the-go afternoon snack. Are you traveling and afraid you may not find any healthy food items for breakfast at the airport or on the plane? – why not bring a healthy granola bar in your carry-on-bag like Gnu Flavor and Fiber to keep you satisfied and prevent you from going for the chips on the plane. My clients that plan their meals ahead of time (as best as possible) are always more successful than those clients that are unprepared.

2. We are rapidly approaching swim suit season, do you have any tips for shedding a few pounds?

Water, water, water! 8-10 cups of water a day to help de-bloat you before swim suit season. And it’s ok if you’re going to the bathroom every hour or so (that’s normal!). I also suggest consuming other foods that are water-rich such as asparagus and making sure to eat lots of lean protein such as chicken and fish for lunch and dinner.

On the other hand, I always tell my clients to try and cut out the major ‘bloat foods,’ a couple of days before you put on that teeny tiny bikini including: beans, sugar-free and fat-free foods, foods high in salt like most canned soups, deli meats, commercial salad dressings, spaghetti sauce and other canned sauces like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, bbq sauce and frozen meals (with a sodium level of more than 350mg total). Also be careful with carbonated beverages and chewing gum – as they both cause you to swallow more air, thus increasing your chances of feeling bloated.

3. Were you always a healthy eater or has becoming a nutritionist change the way you eat and think about food?

I grew up in a really healthy environment, so YES I’ve always eaten pretty healthy. My mother used to make home cooked meals during the week where we always started our dinners with fresh fruit (strange I know, but a great way to get our fruit intake out of the way before we were full). We always had a salad or soup and then had a main course which included a protein, a veggie and a starch. Although we always had dessert, it was portion-controlled. Although my parents never kept a lot of junk food in the house (chips, candy, chocolates, soda), I was never deprived of these foods when I went out. I’m not going to lie, I do have a sweet tooth, but I make sure if I consume candy or chocolate, I make sure the rest of the day is jam-packed with nutrient-rich foods.

Since becoming a dietitian, my eating habits have improved even more. I’m now more aware of balancing my meals, like making sure to have a good source of protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner and to include more fiber-rich foods in my diet.

4. What is your favorite indulgence?

Definitely frozen yogurt! But hey – it’s still a good source of calcium!

5. Do you think portion control is always important, even when it comes to fruits and veggies?

Of course! Although fruits and veggies are filled with tons of healthy vitamins and minerals and are both fairly low in calories, when you’re eating too many fruits and veggies, you are likely skimping out on other food groups like dairy and other lean sources of protein. Although I do recommend to my clients that they can have unlimited amounts of veggies in their diet and about 2-3 servings of fruits a day, I rarely see them going overboard with them and if they are, they are definitely skimping out on something else.

 

6. As city-folk, we eat out a lot. What is your advice for staying healthy in restaurants? Do you have any go to meals? And while, I am at it, what are your favorite restaurants?

Never go to a restaurant hungry! So many of my clients starve all day before they go out to eat and it always backfires. They end up stuffing their faces with bread, alcohol and dessert and often have a hard time getting back on track the next day. Make sure to have a small snack before you head out like a yogurt or even an apple and 1 tbsp of peanut butter. You will be less likely to feel ravenous at the restaurant and therefore less likely to go for an unhealthy option. I also always suggest ordering your alcohol WITH your first course as opposed to drinking before you eat to prevent your lowered inhibitions from getting the best of you and overeating.

My simple suggestion at restaurants: Always start with a simple salad or vegetable soup and consider ordering another appetizer for a main course. Make sure it’s a lean source of protein like prosciutto and melon or tuna tartare. If you’re still hungry, order a side of steamed veggies.

I’m a big foodie so I have too many favorite restaurants to list, but some on the top of my list include: Morandi, Hummus Place, Daniel (special occasions only) and BLT Prime.

7. Along those lines, there has been a lot of blog discussion on the social pressures that occur when eating out. What are your thoughts on ordering healthfully without feeling left out or getting labeled as the salad girl?

What’s wrong with a salad??? Alright, I do agree that ordering just a plain salad for dinner is lame, but not all salads are boring and meant to be eaten only by women! When in doubt, a chicken Caesar salad is always a good options at a restaurant (since you’re including a lean source of protein), as long as you leave the croutons and ask for a vinaigrette instead of the Caesar dressing (or getting it on the side). This is New York – we not only expect good service, but we are also a little on the demanding side. Just make sure to have a smile on your face when you ask for substitutions and if your friends or co-workers make fun of you, just let them know that you care about your health and are taking measures NOW to prevent diabetes and heart disease. That may just shut them up!

Just because you eat healthy doesn’t mean you’re a boring eater.

Another tip is to be the first to order – when someone orders something healthy, people tend to follow suit.

8. Finally, what do your clients find most helpful about having personalized counseling from a nutritionist?

The accountability! Knowing that they have to come in for regular weigh-in visits and have to record what they eat makes them more focused and willing to stay on track.

I’m there to support and motivate them throughout the counseling process, which is also very comforting.

Thanks again Dara!

Just to give my opinion for number 8, I found the personalized strategies incredibly helpful.  While I think I know a fair amount about health and nutrition, sometimes I need someone to help me identify (and be honest about) areas I could improve,  and help me develop strategies to implement those positive changes—Gena has also been a rockstar for that.  One of my favorite tips from Dara was to substitute Adora calcium supplements for Hersey’s kisses to satisfy my sweet tooth. 

If you’d like more great tips from Dara, I recommend you check out and/or sign up for the nu-train newsletter, which is packed with healthy eating strategies and recipes from all three nu-train nutritionists.

Dara is also available for nutritional counseling at Nu-train (710 Park Avenue) for more information you can call 212-769-3200.

As I mention, she will be representing Nu-train at a Spring Stimulus Day at Physique 57 on May 17th.  Here are the details from Physique 57:

“SPRING STIMULUS DAY!!
Sunday, May 17th
2pm-5pm
Spring Street Studio
Investment: $95
 

We all know that excess is OUT which is why our efficient and effective workouts have never been more popular!  Our Spring Stimulus Day invites you to take our quick-fix Physique Express class then sample Mat 57™ or Physique Yoga, as well as enjoy a naturally delicious treat from NuKitchen in the company of top rated nutritionists from Nu-Train, New York City’s premiere nutritional counseling group.  After all, you are what you eat-and who’s not baffled by all of the conflicting advice?

  • THE SKINNY:
  • You start your journey with Tanya leading an invigorating 40 minute Physique Express workout. 
  • You choose either Mat 57™ with Lauren to zero in on your core or Physique Yoga with Vienna to feel long and lean.
  • Nu-Train Nutritionists offer sane advice on how to nourish yourself on a budget and discuss the pros and cons of today’s costly cleanses.
  • NuKitchen provides a refreshing healthy snack”

Do you decide what you order?

 

 cambridge-dining-out

 

 

 

Hi everyone, I am sure you will be just as excited as me to welcome Gena back to the blog.  She has written another incredible post on a subject that I think we can all relate to: the social pressure that goes along with dining out.  When I think about it, it is amazing how many people I often let influence my food choices.  

 

For example, will people think I am on a diet if I really just want a gorgeous giant salad?  Will I look like a hypocrite if I order fish, but won’t eat chicken?  Will the waiter think I am cheap if I just get water or if I want an appetizer as my entrée? Will the chef spit in my food if I make a substitution? Will my friends think I am a kill joy if I don’t want a drink tonight? Will they think I am fat if I am the only one wants dessert?

 

 Don’t get me wrong, I love eating out and I love that I feel the freedom to order whatever I want, but I do often feel outside pressures on the path to making the decision to order what I truly want, whether that is a light veggie meal, an indulgent homemade pasta or just a garden salad and a really glorious dessert—not well-balanced, but even Joy Bauer says it’s okay once in a while.

 

Gena, I must thank you for an empowering, which all boils down to the obvious, but revolutionary fact:  “At the end of the day, anything you choose to put in it will affect you, not your friends, not your family, and not the restaurant staff.”

 

Please enjoy everyone!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most health-conscious eaters have been here:

 

You’re out to eat with friends. It’s a typical high-end restaurant menu: plenty of produce and elegant preparation, along with plenty of dishes you’d like to avoid. Maybe you’re steering clear of them because youre a vegetarian or vegan; maybe it’s because you’re trying to shave off a pound or two; maybe it’s because you know that the dish just isn’t good enough to justify its own richness (in other words, it’s not a taste bang for your calorie buck). Or maybe rich food just doesn’t appeal to you. Instead, you’re looking at the salads and appetizers, thinking that two smaller dishes will certainly be cheaper—and enough to satisfy your hunger—than an appertizer and an entrée. Maybe you’re thinking about one of the lighter entrees and no appetizer. Maybe you’ve got food allergies and know that you’ll be asking the waiter to make modifications to something.

 

Whatever the reason you’re eating healthy tonight, feelings of anxiety might be coursing through your mind. Will I look like the proverbial “salad girl”? Will I look like I have an eating disorder? Will it be embarassing to admit that I’m on a diet? Will I look picky and difficult? Of course, it’s ironic that eating healthy should be a source of anxiety or guilt—shouldn’t it work the opposite way?—but that’s often how it is.

 

As a raw foodist, I’m constantly butting up against this scenario. I live in New York, city of foodies and restaurant goers. I work in publishing, an industry that thrives off of the business lunch. So I know all too well what it’s like to navigate restaurant dining as an outisder. But being a raw foodist is only an extreme manifestation of a common issue: it can be a little weird to eat healthy when you’re eating out. A few weeks ago, when Melissa and I were discussing this very issue, it became clear that many women—not just the athletes and raw foodies among us—feel uncomfortable standing by their healthy impulses at restaurants. And at the end of the day, they shouldn’t.

 

Let me make something clear: I believe that restaurant dining should be a fun, carefree, and tasty experience. Eating out is a fiscal luxury, especially in this economy, and I think we all should view it as a chance to eat something above and beyond what we’ll be able to make at home. I’m not suggesting that it’s wrong to eat more richly than you would on any other given night when you go out to eat. I think it’s perfectly natural! But if you find yourself eating out frequently, I think it’s also natural to experience occasions when you simply want to eat lightly. And that’s what I want to talk about.

 

There are a few reasons why we might feel ashamed to order lightly in a restaurant. The first is the aforementioned “salad girl” complex. (It’s a complex I know well, since we raw foodists eat a whole lot of salads!) The underlying fear is this: I’ll confirm every lame stereotype of a body conscious chick who eats nothing but lettuce. My friends will think I’m tiresome and resent me, and guys will think I’m a walking gender stereotype. Boo.

 

Then there’s the fear of being the girl who seems to have an eating disorder, and with it the inevitable barrage of concerned inquiries: “That’s all you’re getting? Are you sure that’ll be enough? You’re really thin, you know. You don’t have to watch what you eat.” Now, if you do have disordered eating, those are a very legitimate set of concerns. I know many girls who have recovered from eating disorders and remember clearly the anxiety and misery that accompanied restaurant dining for so many years. For many of these women, eating “lightly” at a restaurant can trigger memories of disordered eating patterns, and that’s a good reason to order something a little heavier. But if you don’t have an eating disorder, and you’re not recovering from one, it’s a real pain to be told that the salad dish you want is a sign of an underlying condition.

 

And what if you really are trying to shed a few pounds—with good reason? What if you’re on a healthy track and doing something good for your body, carefully and vigilantly? No matter how justified and admirable your efforts are, it can be really hard to say, “I’m on a diet.” And none of us should be pushed in a position where we have to declare it to the world, just because we ordered our omelette with egg whites. But I’m afraid that it’s all too unavoidable, especially in large groups or with friends who aren’t close enough to respect your privacy.

 

To any of the circumstances listed above, I have one piece of advice: be true to yourself. You know what your body is craving, and you know where you’d like your meal to fall on the scale of “healhy” to “totally-worth-it-splurge.” Be true to that conviction.

Food is many things: it’s a social experience; it’s a cultural construct, it’s an arena for creativity and experimentation (as all you home chefs know!), and it’s a form of pleasure. But first and most essentially, it’s fuel for our bodies. And when we listen to our bodies, they usually tell us what they want and need. Don’t let social pressures or cultural norms dictate how your choose to nourish yourself and with what. Be mindful of your body’s natural cues: most of the time, they’re steering you in the right direction. If your body wants two appetizers, it’s probably most healthy (and most economical) to obey.

 

Eating raw in restaurants, I’m constantly forced to pit my impulses up against a chef’s whims, my dining companions’ judgments, and countless cultural norms. Being a raw foodist means living in opposition to so many customs: the common association of a “hot meal” with sustenance and satiety; the norm of having an omnivorous diet; the idea that cooking food is the only true form of virtuosity as a chef. And it’s not always easy to be the odd girl out. But at the end of the day, I love my lifestyle. I love how eating raw makes me feel, and I know that I don’t feel as good when I don’t follow my instincts—which usually lead me to raw, minimally prepared foods. So no matter how peculiar I might look when I order two salads, or when I request that someone make an appetizer salad “entrée sized” and add some nuts, or when I ask for a big plate of steamed broccoli at a four star omnivore’s paradise, I do it. At the end of the day, I’m the one who’s paying money to eat. And I shouldn’t be made to feel (by a waiter or by anyone else) that I’m wrong to ask for the food I want.

 

Most of you won’t have to confront scenarios that are this exagerrated. Most of you will find plenty of food on any menu that agrees with you. But if you do find yourself asking for the waiter to put your dressing on the side, or steam your veggies, or hold the cream sauce on your salmon, relax. Don’t feel guilty. You’re the customer, and you deserve to get what you want. And don’t feel ashamed of having an impulse that may seem, to outsiders, a little bit finicky or health-conscious. It’s your body. At the end of the day, anything you choose to put in it will affect you, not your friends, not your family, and not the restaurant staff. That rich dessert that your friend pressured you to split with her will sit in your belly when you get home tonight; that extra glass of wine that you really didn’t want will be the culprit behind your headache tomorrow.

 

The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to take control of your body . If this means treating it to a five course tasting menu with chocolate souffle, great! Go for it, and enjoy every bite. But if it means ordering something modest, don’t stop yourself because of what other people may or may not think. Most of the time, we ladies take pride in a sense of ownership  of our bodies. We choose the birth control methods we use, the medicine we take, the clothes we wear, and the exercise we practice. But when it comes to food, we’re all very susceptible to social pressure. But we don’t have to be. Our bodies are ours to listen to.

 

Enjoy your restaurant excursions, everyone! Bon appetite!

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger: Meet Gena and her real approach to raw food

Hi everyone.  I am VERY excited to have Gena (pronounced Jen-na) as a guest blogger.  I have been blessed to meet a couple amazing people through my , and Gena is one of them.   She is gorgeous, smart, city-wise, a great deal finder, and she introduced me to Girl Talk! Not only that, she is a FABULOUS writer. (No picture yet because the girl doesn’t own a digital camera, but we are going out to dinner on Friday, so I may be sneaky :).)

While I tend to stay pretty mainstream on my blog (which is quite true to my lifestyle), there are a few things I have been wanting to touch on and the raw food lifestyle is one of them.  While eating raw food may seem bizarre to some, eating pizza, chicken ceasar salads, aspartame-filled yogurts, processed breakfast bars, and bacon eggwiches may seem equally strange to others.  However, I am not hating on any lifestyle or promoting changing your diet if it is working for you. I just like to explore and open the door to new perspectives, ones that might even give you tips to receiving an even higher level of health and well-being.  While I am not raw and I certainly have vices of my own, often times I feel like that SAD is an all to appropriate acronym for the Standard American Diet.  Have a lost you? Maybe you have never even heard of raw food. Or maybe one of the many bloggers that love larabars and like experimenting with raw macaroons.  Either way, you are in luck, this is a great  Raw Food 101.

When I met  Gena, she was just getting into the raw lifestyle, since then she has progressed to pretty much 100% raw and is loving it. I figured she would be the perfect  person to talk about and to introduce raw food–from the perspective of a real girl, with a real life.  And by the way, THIS GIRL GLOWS! During times when I was quite into raw I felt and looked my best, and reading Gena’s post today really inspired me to incorporate even more raw, natural  food into my diet.  But this post isn’t about me!  If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email(thelittlerunnerthatcould@gmail.com) and we will get back to you.

So here is part one, covering Gena’s transition to raw and the changes that came with it, as well as common misperceptions about raw foodism.  Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, Gena will answer common FAQs including what she eats, how  and if she cheats, costs, dining out, going on dates, business dining and more.

Without further ado, Gena!

Hello! Thanks to all of you for welcoming me onto the site, and a huge thank you to Melissa for inviting me to write something. I’ve admired her blog (almost as much as I admire her!) for a long time, and it’s an honor to make a contribution.

 

Melissa has asked me to say a few words about my raw lifestyle here on the blog. To clarify quickly: a raw diet can mean lots of things, but to most people it means that food is not heated above 117 degrees. This means no broiling, boiling, nuking, baking, searing, grilling, etc. Many raw foodists will eat lightly steamed vegetables at times (I do) but many choose not to. On average, I usually eat 95 to 100% raw each day, with the exception of steamed veggies or root veggies, dark chocolate, and tea. A lot of people ask me if raw diets are the same as vegan diets. The answer is, nope. Many raw foodists eat raw fish and dairy. I don’t; I was a vegan before I discovered raw food, and even when I don’t eat 100% raw, I eat 100% vegan.

 

Many people who have switched to a living foods diet did so consciously, motivated by the desire to reverse illness, obesity, or depression. My path to raw foods was much more unexpected and organic, though the benefits I’ve experienced are no less dramatic. I had been a vegan for a while, and I had heard a lot about the supposed cure-all of raw living: a promise of boundless energy, bright eyes, clear, glowing skin, seamless digestion, and freedom from the common cold, among other things. I was curious, but doubtful. Forgive me, fellow raw foodists, but I just didn’t see enough scientific basis at the time to support all the buzz. The fundamental premise of a raw diet—that heating food about 117 degrees kills not only the natural enzymes in the food, but many of the nutrients as well—made sense. But how many studies had REALLY been done? And what about counter claims? Raw foodists say that preserving enzymes in food means that those same enzymes later go on to help in digestion. But don’t many doctors claim that cooking food is what makes it easier to digest? If raw food were as much of a panacea as people say, wouldn’t more people do it?

 

Still, I couldn’t help but be curious. Few communities of people are more energetic, committed, or passionate as raw foodists, and I was inspired by what I saw on the websites We Like It Raw and Give it to Me Raw (fantastic resources, for anyone who is curious). If these guys were so enthusiastic, I thought, there had to be some truth to it all. So I decided to experiment. I figured I would eat mostly raw for as long as I felt like—just to see if I noticed a difference.

 

And boy, did I ever. Sometimes the proof is in the pudding, as they say; I still don’t know if I could argue raw living with a team of scientists, but within two weeks of eating raw, I had twice as much energy, bouts of euphoria, limitless stamina at the gym, more even-keeled moods, and rosy, glowing skin. I was shocked. What I had dismissed as a lot of hoopla was turning out to be true—more than I ever could have imagined. And even more shocking was my own capacity to feel fulfilled and happy eating raw foods. I had imagined it would be hard, if not impossible, to go without cooked grains, hot soups, and toasted bread. Incredibly, it wasn’t. I had never told myself I couldn’t have those things if I wanted—it was an experiment—but I was shocked by my sudden lack of desire for them. In fact, I had never felt quite so nourished, satisfied, and happy with my diet.

 

If you’re reading Melissa’s blog, there’s a good chance that you’re a healthy, active person with an interest in general well-being. What eating raw has proven to me is that well-being isn’t only about what achieve with your body in terms of fitness; it’s about what you put in your body (and what you don’t). The foods that people like to advertise as “healthy” or diet-friendly (protein bars, “light” yogurts sweetened with aspartame, frozen meals, low-carb breads) simply aren’t; they’re too processed to do our bodies any good. There are plenty of bloggers out there who have debunked some of the myths behind the diet industry and advocated whole foods (Melissa is one, Kath is another, my friend Lindsey is another), and I don’t need to say more than these ladies have. But I will say that eating raw is a great way to see the truth of their arguments, since you’ll be truly limited to whole foods—no packaged anything. Period.

 

When I explain to people that I’m a high-raw vegan, the immediate response is fear, snickering, and/or confusion. The assumption, I think, is that I’m going to be a Birkenstock-clad, dreadlock adorned, hippie who composts in her apartment. I’m not.  I’m (relatively) normal 26 year old. I have a demanding job, friends, some semblance of a social life. I eat out sparingly, but that’s because it’s expensive, not because I’m prohibited by my diet. I have business lunches. I travel. I don’t smoke or drink, but I sure used to (a pack a day), and I don’t get bothered by friends who do. Eating raw hasn’t confined me; it’s only opened my eyes to the energy and well-being  possible in my own life.

Since I started eating raw four and a half months ago, I’ve seen my IBS (which had plagued me since my teens) all but disappear. I’ve stopped having seasonal allergies. I no longer have menstrual cramps. I respond to stress less acutely than before; I’ll always be a workaholic, but ups and downs at work just don’t bother me as much as they used to, and I find that I have more energy at my job than I did before. I’ve deepened my yoga practice and my workout regimen. I’ve met some extraordinary individuals in the raw foods community. I’ve also begun to clear out almost two decades of toxins from cooked foods, soy products (which always impaired my digestion), nicotine, and refined sugar from my body—a process that still continues and that I hope will deepen as I continue my raw lifestyle.

 Here is a taste of what is to come tomorrow:

So now, the big question: how do I stay raw and have a normal life at the same time? Isn’t it expensive? Do I miss things? Is it hard when I eat out? What about dates? Holidays? Do I “cheat”? These are all good questions. And here are my answers…

If you can’t wait for more, here are some of my favorite raw websites:

Karen Knowler the Raw Food Coach  and her fab blog

We Like it Raw  and their quickies

Gone Raw

Go Raw Chicago  (this is an awesome post for salad lovers)

The Raw Model

GLiving

Ani Phyo

Oh, if you missed my first guest blogger, see Special Guest with Tips to Becoming a Super Athlete!

Eating Out Without Filling Out

I admit I am a New York Foodie. I was hesitant to adapt the title, but I have been called it enough times to succumb. My love of restaurants is about more than just the food. I love to know who the owner is, what other restaurants they own, who the chef is, where have they worked, what stars eat there, etc. Atmosphere, decor, and service are also extremely important to me, right down to the place settings. On my first orgasmic trip to Tiffany’s, I bought Table Manners for Teenagers, I was 12. Believe me a lot of time goes into setting down each utensil if the restaurant cares. The food should by artfully arranged on the plate, looking every bit as fabulous as it is going to taste! The staff can really tell you a lot about whether the owners care about your experience. They should be gracious, extremely knowledgeable, not rushing–and in NYC attractiveness tends to be pretty important.

You don’t have to dine exclusively in hot spots (Butter) or celebrity chef owned places (Babbo) to eat well, some hole in the wall places have the most charm (Cafe Habana). If you are on a budget, brunch is the best way to experience NYC dining. For me a weekend without brunch is like Lauren Conrad without (fake) drama-something’s missing.

Just have to include this brunch quote from SITC:

There are very few things this New Yorker loves as much as Sunday brunch. You can sleep until noon and still get eggs anywhere in the city, alcohol is often included with the meal, and Sunday is the one day a week you get the single woman’s sports pages: the New York Times wedding section.

On to the food, so here is my intention for this post. Food is fuel; food is also a cultural connector and a passion for many. However, I realize eating out can be stressful for some people. I want to emphasis that I believe you can eat out, eat what you love, and not gain an ounce.

One of the great things about eating out in the city is that you can liberate yourself from calorie counting because the nutritional information is almost never available. I am not saying that calorie counting is bad or ineffective if it works for you, but for me, it’s far too time consuming, and tends to be obsessive or guilty inducing.

So I am going to give you my thoughts on eating out without filling out. I am also going to give you tips straight from the nutritionist I visited a few months ago, marked with an *.

Some of the tips are more stringent than I the ones I follow, so they are italized. I included them because they are safe and healthy, but I would probably only employ them in the following situations:

1.) I was getting married in a month
2.) My last name was Moss and my first name was Kate (negative)
3.) I had eaten 5 meals at the Shake Shack/Chipotle in the last 3 days.

So you have to decide if they are right for you.

I say they are safe and healthy as opposed to some of the tactics used by some super slim people I know. My point is that if you see a body that is too good to be true, it could be genetics; it could be a health issue you don’t know about, or it might have to do with measures involving a lot more than self-restraint, exercise, coffee and even coke.

So on with the tips.

Tip #1 *Check the menu beforehand. I don’t always do this because I like to be surprised, but it can be good to find a few healthy options before you go. The nutritionist I visited said that she makes sure the place has something she can eat. I can’t imagine telling a date I wouldn’t go to a restaurant they picked because there was nothing I could eat.

Tip #2 *The ONE request rule. This is huge. This can transform your relationship with eating out if it makes you uncomfortable. You can only ask the waiter to make one substitution for the entire meal. So if you want your omelet with egg white only, don’t ask for it to be cooked without oil. If you want you salad dressing on the side, don’t drill the person about the way the cook your fish. If you want your fish cooked with olive oil not butter, make that your request. So let’s say your fish comes drenched a top a pool of teriyaki, just move it to a separate plate, so you have a reasonable amount of sauce.

I like this one because it frees you from getting caught up with a million requests and to relax and enjoy your meal. I never could understand the point of order a scooped out bagel! It seems like ordering a pizza and saying crust only please!

The one request rule makes you more fun to eat with. Also it ensures their will be no bodily fluids in your food. Piss off the waiter, and watch out—it happens even in the best places. PS Don’t lie; they know you are not “allergic” to butter. I understand some people do have allergies and restrictions in which case demand away.

Tip #3 *Use your starches wisely. Starches have a place in your meal, but they can add up quickly (wine, sweet sauces, croutons on your salad) and not satiate you the way other food groups do. So if you want a starch with your meal, figure out how to forgo the bread basket–or limit yourself to a half serving. When I am ordering a salad to go, I sometimes say no bread first because I can never say no to the focaccia slice once they hand it over the counter. Although I do happy accept it sometimes. Remember your first wine is free, the second counts as a starch, so plan it in and enjoy it!

Tip #4 *Pick a pair of appetizers, one that is mainly protein. This is one of my staple strategies. I love to get something like mussels marinara with a goat cheese, pear, walnut salad. Then I can have my slice of bread if I want it. This is great because you are not getting too much food. Obviously, fried appetizers are not your best choices. So stick with cheeses, seafood, veggies, small plates of pasta etc.

Tip #5 If you go for perfection, order a salad and two veggie sides. This was a suggestion by the nutritionist, but it was too stringent for me. I feel like I might be ten pounds lighter if I was always perfect and ordered the lightest meal possible, but I wouldn’t be someone anyone would want to go out to dinner with! It took me a while get to a place where I have a very healthy relationship with food and my body. It was worth the work I put into reframing my ideas for the resulting freedom and the pleasure I take in enjoying all the foods I love in moderation.

Tip #6 If you get stuck at a place where there is nothing healthy, remember you don’t have to finish! Pizza is just not something I go crazy for. If I am stuck at a pizza place, I order a salad, and eat a slice. If I decide ¾ of the way through I am satisfied, I stop—foods with fat do fill me up much faster than the typically low-fat things I prepare at home! I also remember to savour the time with friends as much as the food.

Tip #7 Don’t feel guilty about peer pressure!
I know how it feels when all your friends what to order appetizers, entrees, desserts, multiple drinks. You shouldn’t feel bad if you want to make a healthier decision. If they give you crap, it’s probably more about them than you. Once in a while it’s fine to go a little overboard, but I wouldn’t fit in my jeans if eat heavy, multiple course meals EVERY time I went out. My advice is to not make it a big deal, and order what will make you happy. If someone questions why you are order a veggie burger and steamed vegetables when everyone else is getting fried chicken, corn bread and mashed potatoes. Say, this place is so good, I bet they have a killer veggie burger–or that’s what looks good to me today. If you don’t want an appetizer and an entree, just say, it’s weird that I am always starving, but today I’m actually just not that hungry. Don’t get into anything having to do with weight, or “being good,” just enjoy the food and the great company.

Since I eat out several times a week I do pay attention to making healthy (but delicious) choices, otherwise I would probably be sluggish all the time. But on special occasions or at really amazing restaurants (The Modern) I order absolutely anything I want. If you eat when your hungry and stop when your full, it is unlikely you will ever have a weight problem. It’s the damn emotions that get in the way.

So what do I order?

Well I typically have no problem getting all my grains, fruits, veggies (and sweets) in, but I am not always good about including protein in my diet. I am too chicken to prepare fish at home, so I usually take the opportunity to order it while I am out.

So in an American restaurant or steakhouse:

I will probably order a fish dish, with a steamed or sauteed veggie. I’ll have whatever carb comes with it and eat a reasonable portion of it.

Again I often do the double appetizer-requesting both to ome with the entrees.

Mexican:

Fish tacos in corn tortillas with sautéed spinach and beans

Veggie fajitas—loaded with all the fixings, but I skip the chips and margaritas. Although I do enjoy sangria from time to time.

Enchiritos with extra salsa and salad with jicama and avocado

Italian: my fav! I order whatever looks best to me! Otto is one of my favorite places because they keep portions small! I love the pasta a la norma, which is pasta with eggplant and ricotta.

I am a big pasta primavera fan, but I typically eat all the vegetables, and find myself satisfied with a small portion of pasta, maybe ¾ cup.

Oh and mussels fra diavolo over angel hair.

I also take advantage of the simple salads and broth based soups Italian places offer.

If I am going more tapas style, I will get a salad, eggplant caponata and/or broccoli rabbe with pecorino, a cheese selection with fresh jams, and enjoy some fresh bread.

If there is an amazing sounding risotto, I might pick that.

Thai: Love veggie spring rolls in rice paper, avocado grapefruit salads, papaya salads, and lettuce wraps. Sometimes I do a sautéed dish.

Greek: I love sampling a little bit of everything, pita, hummus, babaganoush, feta, eggplant, bulgar dishes, roasted cauliflower, kolokythoanthoi, dolmas:you can’t really go too wrong if you stick to plant based items.

Sushi: Any kind of brown rice veggie roll (I’ll do white if they don’t have brown). Squash is one of my favorites. I typically love to order an avocado salad, a roll and edammame.

Brunch: I have never been a breakfast person. My parents had to fight with me to eat it, feeding pbjs and cheesecake even! Now I am better, but as mouth watering as bananas foster brioche french toast and Belgian waffles with fire roasted peaches sound, I just don’t like the taste. Occasionally, I will try chocolate chip banana pancakes–they sound so good, I wish I loved them! My favorite brunch is actually pretty healthy, a HUGE fruit salad with yogurt, paired with whole grain toast and preserves. If the place has great baked goods (Balthazar), I’ll go for a croissant (love them) or muffin (ditto) instead of toast. I have never been an egg person, the texture is a bit weird to me. But I finally learned to appreciate frittatas, especially loaded with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and goat cheese. 7a is one of my favorite hole in the wall places to have a brunch.

What to do about dessert?

Order whatever looks best! I almost never pass up dessert. But I do always share, by the 4th, 5th or 6th bite I am usually as satisfied as I am going to be, no need to take 20 bites to experience cheesecake. I have to admit, it doesn’t always stop me!

Nutritionist recommendations:* kinda boring, but if you are into that sort of thing: sorbet, fruit (with fondue is acceptable), berries.

Note that none of these rules apply in foreign countries. Leave no carb behind, never neglect the bread basket or pasta plate, drown yourself in olive oil, knock back the vino and gorge on gelato. When you get home the scale will probably read lighter than when you left it. I do not know why this system works, but I have proven it over and over :)

Salad Shopping Primer

Today I I was planning a big salad post. Since I really needed to stock up on produce, I thought I would show you some of my salad essentials.
A lot of the time I get a box of organic produce delivered through urbanorganic.com But sometimes I like to pick out my own things. I love that urban organic is local and organic, but it does take lots of washing and salad spinning because it is straight from the ground!
I went to Trader Joe’s right after the gym (it’s next door) so I bought everything that looked good! I also bought a lot of things that are ready to go because time is not of the essence!
Here’s what I got:
Colored lettuce–tons of diffent greens, chards, a rainbow of colors to make salads a feast for the eyes!
-broccoli slaw
-snow peas (great in salads as are sugar snap peas)
-cherry tomatoes
-broccoli and cauliflower florets
-steamed beets-ready to go–beets are one of my very favorites
-cucumber
-mango–one of my favorite salad toppings
-carrots
-apples
-bananas (not for salad)
-strawberries
-baby spinach
-I also got some yogurts, trying a macca green tea yogurt, a bit weird especially since I can’t remember my last flavored yogurt. Maybe it’s like Pinkberry!
On my way out I picked up an impulse, seedy currant cookies. They reminded me of these great seed honey cookies I bought in Switzerland this summer. Kind of granola -like.
Despite the fact that I was pretty hungry, I managed to devour Glamour on the subway home rather than the food. Somehow I even unpacked, made my salad and took some photos for the blog rather than gobbling up the food at the counter as quick as I could chop it! Haha

The Art of Salad Making

Several readers have asked me about salads, and I have to say salad making is an art. The proper combinations of creamy, crunchy, sweet, bitter, acidic, and rich paired with a stunning dressing can make each salad a sumptuous meal. Conversely, over doing it with way too many ingredients or under doing by limiting the beautiful potential of vegetables can turn one off to salads rather quickly.

I could probably post pages upon pages about salads, but I will do my best to be as succinct as possible!
I have pretty much always loved salads, but two women in particular taught me the art of salad making, and I would love to share the lessons I have learned, and where you can get more detail too.

Reading Raw Food Real World by Sarma Melngalis taught me how to balance flavors and textures, after a few weeks of using her techniques all I ever wanted to eat was salad–at least one massive one a day. Obviously I can’t copy the amazing passage on salad making directly, but I will leave you with a few great quotes and a summary of the advice. Read the book for more info and recipes.

“We think salads are a great opportunity for creativity because you can easily combine many ingredients, and because you can unite so many varying textures and flavors and get them all in one bite…Constructing salads is easy but keep in mind that some factors do apply to making a great salad. Think of them as vegetable sundaes…” Raw Food Real World page 99.

The most important rules are to make sure you balance your flavors and textures. Contrast acidic ingredients like balsamic and citrus fruits with rich, creamy ingredients like avocados or goat cheese. You might use a soft mild lettuce like butter lettuce with a crunchy sharp vegetables and nuts.

Aim to have a delicate balance of:
- acid/citrus
-creamy/rich
-tart/bitter with sweet
-chewy/crunchy with smooth
-salty/watery or juicy ingredients–celtic sea salt tends to balance and intensify flavors in recipes.
You don’t need every single one of these elements in each, but having some contrasts in texture and depths of flavor makes salad more interesting.
Sundried tomatoes, heirloom Tomatoes, goat cheese (raw of regular), with fresh basil and oregano, red and green peppers, cucumber and jicama tossed with balsamic and some sea salt, is a delicious example. You might not need to include all of those ingredients, but I wanted to give options. There are so many textures: crunchy, creamy, crisp, and chewy, and flavors rich, salty, spicy, acidic.
Here’s one last classic example: Pecan crusted goat/gorgonzola cheese with pears and dried cherries and balasamic. So you have got a rich creamy cheese contrasting a sweet juicy fruit, crunchy nutty pecans, and tart/sweet/chewy dried cherries, balanced with acid from the dressing.

Remember that your choose of base greens in limitless, you can find soft lettuces like mesclun, peppery greens like arugula, watery ones like romaine, bold flavors like spinach, bitter ones such as chard or kale, and sweet, substantial bases like shredded cabbages. Research and explore your options they all offer different benefits. Personally I love baby spinach and purple cabbage.

For one of my favorite salads look here, for one of Sarma’s favorites look here. (I was really into raw a while back, but I found that I needed more balance in my life although clearly I enjoy raw food.)

Rule number two, you are creating a salad not a chopped meal. This is from Natalia Rose. Her books are worth buying for the salad recipes alone, totally amazing!

While many restaurants chop up a meal throw it on lettuce and call it a salad. A really salad consists of mainly vegetables with one or two other elements like a protein or nuts. If you are eating a salad with lettuce, chicken, cheese, beans and croutons, you are not going to feel light energized and radiant afterwards.

Which brings me to my third tip. Limit your salads to one or two fatty items, such as avocado (which I encourage you to try until you love. It took me a long time, but they are amazing for you! To start, make sure they are the perfect ripeness (too hard and they taste like soap) and spread them on whole grain toast–then tell me you don’t love them!) cheese, nuts, or dressing. Although when you are starting don’t worry too much about the dressing, if it makes you love salad and it is made of high quality ingredients, you should digest it seamlessly. That being said you need at least one fat to keep you full and to digest the fat soluble vitamins in vegetables. Fat is really essential to feel all the amazing effects of the nutrients you are consuming.

Keep ingredients to around 5. Too many more than that and you start to lose the individual tastes. I count cucumber, jicama and diakon radish as freebies.

Tip four, add sweet, juicy and chewy and you will be diving in for more. When I started adding mango to my salad, I couldn’t get enough. Juicy fruits like mango, kiwi and grapefruit makes salads refreshing, hydrating and uber delicious.
Apples and pears make them crunchy and hearty.

The vast array of dried fruits like golden raisins, dried cherries, etc. add a great sweet flavor and chewy texture that is just divine. Corn is also a great sweet, chewy addition, fresh not canned!

If you are confused on salty-sea vegetables, dulse, many seeds, corn, tomatoes, cheeses are just a few examples of salty.

Now that you now how to make salads sinfully delicious through flavor combinations, here are some tips to keep you full and lean:

Start with your leafy base
-add 3+ fresh vegetables, with no more than one starchy-like corn or peas
-add protein of choice
-add fat
-add an optional fun ingredient, such as nuts, fresh/dried fruit, or other item you love-1-2 TBSP.
-somethings, like laughing cow cheese fall into many categories (protein, fat, creamy) so you can get some bang for your buck and a nice dressing as well.
-Nuts and dried fruits go very well together with an all vegetable salad, so think of nuts as your fat/protein and dried fruit as your fun item. Top with balsamic, agave, or a fruity dressing like the All Natural Maple Grove Farms ones.

If that’s not enough to get you started, I went through the menus of some NYC restaurants that make great salads (Chopt, tossed, FreeFoods NYC, benvenuto, Angelica Kitchen, Candle 79, Caravan of Dreams–look them up on menupages or google them for full menus, I was too lazy to include all the links!)and listed them as ideas for you to make your own! Some may not follow all the rules, but I tried to pick ones that came close.

Summer Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette baby field greens, roasted corn, grape tomatoes, cucumber, golden raisins, strawberries, homemade plantain chips.

Chopped Greek with Two Virgins baby field greens, grape tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, feta, fresh peppers, red onion.

Garden Salad baby field greens, grape tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrots, golden raisins, sunflower seeds.

Spinach Salad With Balsamic Vinaigrette baby spinach, shiitake mushrooms, roasted portobello, roasted sweet onions, toasted hazelnuts, homemade croutons.

Chop’t Ten Vegetable iceberg lettuce, grilled asparagus, green peas, hearts of palm, carrots, broccoli, beets, white mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes and corn we recommend chop’t secret house blend

Teriaki Shrimp a blend of spinach and romaine lettuces, carrots, slivered almonds, real oranges, snow peas.

Sea Caesar crisp romaine lettuce tossed with creamy garlic dressing. Topped with seasoned sourdough croutons, a sprinkle of smoked dulse & nori strips

Orchard mesclun lettuces, apple, toasted pecans, dried bing cherries & sourdough croutons; tossed in a rosemary vinaigrette

Mixed Sprout a refreshing toss of snow pea shoots, sunflower sprouts & seeds, & mint; mixed with cabbage, daikon & carrots in a cool mint vinaigrette. Adorned with toasted peanuts, onion sprouts & watercress

Balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes & basil marinated chickpeas, over local greens tossed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, & coarse sea salt.

Baby Greens Salad baby greens, cranberry beans, roasted butternut squash, quinoa, avocado, toasted sunflower seeds, poblano dressing

Roasted Beet Salad mache, arugula, beets, baby carrots, haricots verts, ginger gold apples, fennel, toasted pecans, vanilla-fig dressing

Formaggio Di Capra E Noci pistachio encrusted goal cheese, beets and seasoned pecans, on a bed of arugula, endive and radicchio

Final notes: The salad above is a mix of all kinds of romaines and rainbow chards, carrots, snow peas, kiwi, a sprinkle of pure food and wine cheesy raw crackers (to make it more fun for you guys), cucumber, and cherry tomatoes. After I dressed it lightly with Newman’s Light Honey Dijon. I served it fage mixed with cinnamon and strawberries.