Suzanne Martinsmith has a sure way to find a healthy place to take her family when they eat out.
“Look for places that are home-owned, not part of a chain,” she said. “Those places are more likely to make their own food from scratch and that means fewer – or no – preservatives.”
Martinsmith, who owns the Home Made Cafe in Port Orchard, thinks the preservatives and the fructose used in pre-made foods is a big cause of unhealthy eating, at home and out.
At the cafe she owns with the life partner, Paul Robinson, everything they serve is made by hand, sans a few kinds of breads, and they cater to those with special food needs.
That brings us to another thing about eating out the healthy way.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for your choices to be made the way you want it,” Martinsmith said. “In locally-owned restaurants, they expect that. That’s why they don’t make your food up ahead of time. They wait until the order comes in.”
When eating breakfast at a sit-down restaurant, and when watching the calories, eat omelets.
“Especially the veggie ones,” she said. “They have lots of vitamins and protein.”
As for lunch, she suggests soups and salads, or maybe their “Debbie’s Tuna Salad,” which is served on a bed of lettuce.
“Keep it light with a balsamic dressing,” she said.
Many restaurants serve bottled dressings, not homemade, and they all have preservatives and bad sugars, she added.
Another suggestion from Weight Watchers is to always ask for the dressing on the side. Dip your fork in it and then eat.
Martinsmith doesn’t really have a list of “nevers” when eating out. She said you can even eat fried food, but ask for it to be cooked in healthy oil, such as olive oil.
As for other things, she said the key is have restraint.
“Here, we serve big portions,” she said. “So ask for half of it to go and take it home. How much you eat is up to you,” she said. “It’s time to stop blaming the restaurant for that.”
Other suggestions from nutritionists are:
Ask for triple the vegetables, to replace the starchy carbs.
Order from the healthy, light, low fat entrees on the menu. Check the calorie count, which by law, should be available at every restaurant.
Order a salad before eating anything else on the menu. This will fill you up some, so you won’t eat as much of the main course.
Check the online menu before you leave home. Make the decision then about what you are going to order based on what is healthy.
Skip fancy drinks.
Top a baked potato with veggies from the salad bar. Avoid the butter and sour cream.
Order fish. Just not fried fish. Seafood should be ordered steamed, baked, broiled sautéed, blackened or grilled to keep the calorie count lower.
Drink plenty of water throughout the meal. It will slow your eating down and let the message get to your brain that you’re full before your plate is empty.
Skip the dessert. Or have a sorbet. Stay away from the triple chocolate cake.
When eating out, try these healthier options:
Taco Time, a local chain that buys ingredients locally and cooks without preservatives, Martinsmith said.
Greens On Your Way, with locations in Poulsbo and Silverdale. Here you can drive up and take a salad with you. Options include Caesar, Chef’s, or Cobb. Order online ahead of time and save time.
Another option, Jake’s Pickup on Bainbridge Island. Try the organic greens with smoked turkey or salmon. There’s also Mom’s Tuna Salad and eggs for breakfast cooked-to-order.
This article originally appeared in Kitsap Living – Winter 2017.