Breanne Nalder Harward, MS, RDN
Plan7 Endurance Coaching, Utah Sports and Wellness
Let’s face it, when life gets busy, don’t you think it is just easier to eat out more often? It becomes difficult to plan ahead or pack healthy meals/snacks to prevent a quick stop for fast food when hunger strikes. The bad news is, if you eat out more than once a week, “empty” calories can quickly add up. But, the good news is, there are plenty of healthy ways to order that allow you to indulge responsibly.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the best decisions when eating out, followed by some healthy snacks to have on hand at work, in your car, gym bag, etc. so you don’t have to stop at a convenient store at all!
- Know your portions. Weigh and measure your food once in a while at home so you get a good idea of appropriate portions. This also helps you control portions when eating out.
- Take half to go, ask the server to wrap up half your entrée before it even reaches your table.
- Avoid any dishes that have the words fried, batter-dipped, creamy, cream sauce, scalloped, au gratin, butter sauce, cheesy, or alfredo. These words generally indicate the meal is higher in fat and calories.
- Order a side salad, fruit, or vegetables as a side when available. These are lower in calories and rich in antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.
- Always request dressing on-the-side and request to have your veggies steamed (sans butter or sauce). You can usually replace a heavy side with veggies or green salad. Don’t be shy to ask for what you want!
- Split one dessert between the table. Take a bite or two and pass it on. You can still enjoy a little treat, feel satisfied, and be proud that you made a healthy choice.
- Fiesta food? Go easy on the cheese, sour cream, and fried tortilla chips. Make your burrito into a salad by dumping the inside over a bed of greens and use salsa as dressing!
- Hold the mayo! 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise adds 100 calories and 11 grams of fat; and many sandwiches will come dressed with over 2 tbsp of mayonnaise. Vinegar, mustard, or a little olive oil are great alternatives to mayo that maintain flavor. Hummus and avocado are great flavor enhancers too!
- Order water—calories from soda add up quickly. For example, a 32 oz soda contains about 375 empty calories. Bubble water is always a good soda alternative J
- Don’t shy away from trying a vegetarian option like a veggie or bean burger. Not only are these options delicious, but they can be much healthier, lower in fat, and count as another veggie serving in your day.
Savvy Snacking for Daily Packing
All of these snacks are 150 calories or less, so you can give in to your sweet tooth or satisfy a stomach growl without the guilt.
Mix 1/4 cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt with 1/2 a cup of blueberries and raspberries: 90 calories
Chop an ounce of low-fat mozzarella cheese and 6 fresh basil leaves, then eat with a cup of cherry tomatoes: 100 calories
Filling and Fiber-Rich
Fill 5 ribs of celery with one tablespoon of peanut butter: 100 calories
Enjoy an 8-ounce skim milk latte: 85 calories
Wrap 1.5 ounces of low-sodium turkey deli with 1 Tbsp hummus in a collard leaf or : 100 calories
Movie Night Necessity
Sprinkle a tablespoon of parmesan cheese over 2 cups of air-popped popcorn: 85 calories
Top half a medium apple with a 1-ounce slice of low-fat extra sharp cheddar cheese: 90 calories
Sweet and Savory
Top 2 ounces of low-fat cottage cheese with one medium peach, sliced: 80 calories
Top 8 ounces of sugar-free hot chocolate with 2 tablespoons of fat-free whipped topping: 95 calories
Chocolate with a Conscience
Top 4 ounces of sugar-free chocolate pudding (made with skim milk) with a 2 tablespoon dollup of fat-free whipped topping: 75 calories
Recipe! Blueberry “Muffin” Lemon, Protein Bars
Prep time: ~25 minutes.
Serving size: 15 bars
A protein rich, filling, and flavorful snack that is easy to take on the go. Guaranteed to keep you satisfied on any day of the week when in need of a little extra fuel to keep you running from one event to the next.
- 1 box of Kodiak blueberry lemon muffin mix
- 2 pastured or omega 3-enriched eggs
- ¾ cup of plain, Greek yogurt + ¼ cup of water OR 1 cup of plain, kefir
- ¼ cup of applesauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl mix the Greek yogurt with water to thin (if using instead of kefir).
- In a medium to large mixing bowl add all ingredients and mix by hand until well-combined.
- Let the mixture set for 1 minute, then spread it evenly within the pan.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and has formed a slight crust or an inserted toothpick is clean upon removal.
- Allow to cool for 5-7 minutes before cutting into squares and removing from the pan.