You don't have to say no to dining out! If you’re eating out, then be prepared with the essentials that can make restaurant meals healthier!
Being prepared is THE name of the healthy eating game, especially while eating out in the world. I mean, at home you can control every crumb and hair that makes its way into your food; when you’re at a restaurant (especially a non-healthy one), you’re at the mercy of the cooks in the kitchen. Of course, you can ask nicely for this or say, please omit that, but at non-healthy-focused restaurants, it’s unlikely that nourishing meals will just fly right out of the kitchen and onto your plate. That’s why I carry around my little “fanny pack of essentials” when I’m traveling. Ok, they don’t have to be kept in an actual fanny pack (although they are coming back again!), but these four non-perishable plants can help you take restaurant or hotel meals from nay to yay.
“Noot yeast” or “nooch” as the groupies call it, is like magical fairy dust. Sprinkle it on anything savory and you’ll up the tastiness of it at least 10X. So like restaurant salads, pasta dishes, and plain-steamed vegetables can all benefit from you carrying some nutritional yeast around and dusting in (ok - dumping) onto your plate. But your body - beyond just your taste buds - can benefit from this too because nutritional yeast is mega-healthy.
It’s super high in vitamin B12, which is an essential vitamin for keeping our immune system strong but is difficult (ok – impossible) to get without eating meat. Nutritional yeast is also all the “frees.” Gluten-free, GMO-free, and dairy-free (even though people say it tastes kind of like cheese, which is why it’s used in almost all vegan cheese recipes). Nutritional yeast is ridiculously low in calories, fat, salt, and has no added sugars and preservatives and crap, AND it has all 18 essential amino acids – which means that it’s a complete protein which is cool. And it’s pretty high in protein for just a flavoring agent. It has 6 grams of protein in 4 tablespoons. Can’t say the same about garlic powder, paprika, or cumin, now can ya?
Check any purse, wallet, pocket, or bra of mine, and you’ll find a packet or two of stevia. I’ll sprinkle it onto oatmeal, into cocktails (in place of simple syrup) and coffee and tea drinks. I love it because it’s sweetness without the seven million downfalls of actual sugar. And it’s a PLANT. An ACTUAL PLANT! Stevia grows like basil and gets ground up to become a sweetener 100 – 300 times sweeter than regular sugar (which is why you only need a pinch or two of it).
Stevia is calorie-free, doesn’t touch or impact your blood sugar, and is legitimately “natural.” Just look for stevia made from “whole stevia leaf.” Like the stuff that, when you look at the label, the ONLY ingredient listed is: STEVIA. There are a lot of companies out there adding stevia to other impossible-to-pronounce-chemical sweeteners, and that’s obviously not what you want. But stevia, in its purest form, is what you want AND what you want to carry around to sweeten things healthfully on the go.
When it comes to adding something from your stash onto sweet things like fruit plates, nut butter toasts, or oatmeals, chia seeds is (are?) the one to reach for. Aside from tasting totally neutral but adding a fun little crunch and photogenic look, chia seeds couldn’t be healthier for you and thus couldn’t work more wonders in elevating the health of your not-so-healthy restaurant grub.
They’ve got loads of fiber (which soothes the belly and digestive disturbances), are packed with omega 3’s, they’re a COMPLETE protein, so they’ll help fill you up and make you feel strong, they have 6 times more calcium than milk does and double the potassium of bananas, and they’re high in vitamin C, magnesium, and antioxidants! Pewf, yeah, I mean add that to your fruit bowl and look how healthier it just got!
It’s not always easy - ok, it’s nearly impossible - to get plant-based protein in non-plant-based restaurants. That’s when hemp seeds, tucked nicely in a baggie in your fanny pack, can come in real handy. Sprinkling some hemp seeds onto your salads, veggie entrees, or even oatmeals can be an excellent way to get a nutritious source of plant-protein while eating at restaurants or hotels.
Hemp is actually one of the highest plant-based sources of protein and contains every single essential amino acid (there are 10), making it a “complete” protein. For each tablespoon of hemp seeds, you get 5.3 grams of protein. IN JUST ONE TABLESPOON! That’s a heck of a lot of protein in a heck of a small amount of seeds. Which is a heck of a lot of easy to add to and elevate the nutrition of nearly every restaurant dish you order!