Survival Skills for Restaurants

by TrainerMomma on May 17, 2010

The Doc and I discovered a jewel in our own backyard:  a nearby restaurant that had some KILLER salads.  There was one salad that made me drop to my knees:

Crisp greens tossed with honey mint dressing and topped with roasted bell peppers, sliced strawberries, warm pecan crusted goat cheese, pine nuts, and spicy chicken.

Whoa.  I could not get enough of this salad.  Actually I could not get enough of the the warm pecan crusted goat cheese.  It was like a little warm patty of heaven sitting like royalty on top of this salad. I found myself calling the Doc on his way home from work at least once a week to pick this salad up for me.  

One Saturday afternoon, I made the salad run.  I happily ordered the usual and watched them, curious as to how they warmed up this goat cheese.  Microwave? Pan fry? Oven? I saw them take my favorite goat cheese patty out of the refrigerator, put in the same bin with the french fries — then deep fried it in boiling oil.  I was standing on the other side of the counter, and found my hand reaching out towards my innocent little goat cheese to rescue it, but no words could escape my mouth.  I was dumbfounded.  Deep friend goat cheese.  That is what I’d been eating all these weeks.  I couldn’t believe it.  Actually why didn’t I believe it?  Heck, I live in Texas where they belief in deep frying everything from their butter to their Snickers. 

They gave me the salad, I dropped the deep friend goat cheese in the garbage on the way out and ate the rest of the salad – which now tasted and reeked like a deep frier — for the last time.  

The entire experience, besides killing a bit of my heart, did remind me of something I should have known:  you can’t trust restaurants. Restaurants are notorious for adding in calories to dishes that are seemingly innocent.  Can we say butter anyone?  Loads of salt? Deep frier? Even when we think we are eating healthily, we are at the complete mercy of the cook back in the kitchen and their methods may not be your methods.  

Now, I don’t write this to discourage you from eating out.  I adore trying new restaurants and seeking out my newest favoritest dish.  All I’m saying is, be cautious:

Good:  Baked, grilled, or broiled.                    
Bad:  Fried. 

Good:  Water.  
Bad:  Soda.

Good:  If you do drink alcohol, remember that it has calories too.  Easy does it!
Bad:  Drinking too much means extra calories and perhaps a loss of restraint.  

Good:  Sipping on water.  
Bad:  Loading up on the bread basket and butter before the meal.

Good:  Pace yourself.  
Bad:  Feeling like you have to eat everything that lands on your table.

Good:  Eat an appetizer for your meal.  
Bad:  Eating an appetizer, entree, and dessert.

Good:  Splitting your entree in half and taking home a doggy bag.
Bad:  Eating your entire entree. 

Good:  Asking them to add more vegetables to your dish.
Bad:  Ordering the fries and pasta as your sides.

Good:  Ordering the salad dressing on the side and dipping your fork in it for taste.
Bad:  Having them toss your salad in the dressing.

Good:  Sharing a dessert (Good in theory.  A big YEAH RIGHT from this girl.  Thus, the quest for another salad).
Bad:  Eating your own dessert and finishing off your husbands’ after he declared it is “too rich”. What the heck does that mean?

Good:  Broth based soups.
Bad:  Cream based soups.

Good:  Marinara.  Red sauce.
Bad:  Cream sauce.

Good:  Pepper.
Bad:  Salt.

Good: Asking questions as to how they are preparing your meal.  Make requests.  
Bad:  Assuming they are cooking for your health.  They are going for taste.

Good:  Going online or asking to see the calorie content of their dishes.
Bad: Going in blind.

Good:  Eating normal meals and snacks prior to your meal at the restaurant.
Bad:  Skipping meals and starving yourself so you gorge at the restaurant.

I’m sure I’ve missed a million tips.  Fit Mommas, what are some of your tried and true survival tips for eating out?

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1 Rebecca Talley May 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm

You're right. You can't trust restaurants. Great post.

2 Kathryn May 17, 2010 at 9:26 pm

I agree, deep fried cheese is completely unappetizing! Have you thought about trying to duplicate the salad at home, and baking or lightly pan-frying the cheese? It sounded so good, I may give it a try!

3 Nancy May 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Mandi, bless you! I leave on vacation today! I was just wondering how I could survive without blowing everything!

Also, you might want to double check this one:

Good: Eating the entire entree.
Bad: Split it in half and take a doggy bag home.

I'm pretty sure these are meant to be reversed.

Thank you thank you thank you!

4 She woke up FAT May 17, 2010 at 9:38 pm

My poor Grandma hasn't got a clue. She pays for the LA weight loss clinic faithfully for years and has yet to lose a pound. We went to Olive Garden and she ordered Alfredo! Poor thing was so proud of herself for making a good choice I didn't have the heart to say anything.
I really don't eat out much anymore because of hidden dangers but when I do I make the best choice I can.

5 Trainer Momma May 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thx, Nancy! I switched it. Oops! That's what I get for trying to do a million things at once. Multi-tasking means getting everything right about 50% of the time. :)

6 Trainer Momma May 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thx, Nancy! I switched it. Oops! That's what I get for trying to do a million things at once. Multi-tasking means getting everything right about 50% of the time. :)

7 Trainer Momma May 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Thx, Nancy! I switched it. Oops! That's what I get for trying to do a million things at once. Multi-tasking means getting everything right about 50% of the time. :)

8 Christina May 18, 2010 at 12:01 am

the calories are usually listed on line so before i even go i already know what im ordering–

some of those dishes are SCARY!!! claim jumper's black tie pasta (which hello i could eat that in ONE sitting and be FINE) 3778 CALORIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what the JUNK!

i LOVE the just get an appetizer idea–easy on the calories AND the wallet and u can really enjoy the whole "experience"!

9 Anonymous May 18, 2010 at 4:21 am

what is the name of the restaurant? don't worry, i'll skip the goat cheese :) i live in san antonio and i am always wanting new salads after seeing your creations!

10 Miss Madison's Mommy May 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

Your so right! I found out that the veggies at Cheddar's are soooo bad for you! The soak the carrots in brown sugar over night and cook the green beans in bacon fat. ugh.

11 The Spring into Summer Challenge May 25, 2010 at 3:01 am

I agree with all your tips, but once or twice a year I throw caution to the wind and eat WHATEVER I want at a restaurant. Then the rest of the year when I'm being more conservative, I don't feel like I'm missing out.

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