Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eating Out During Your Whole30

First of all, whether you eat at home, at someone else's home, or a restaurant, be armed with your Whole30 knowledge. Become familiar with Can I Have...? A Whole30 Guide from  Use your judgment, choose wisely, and ask questions. One of the biggest bug-a-boos about eating out is the oil used in the professional kitchen. For that reason, do ask about oils. Whole30's official position on canola oil is:

"Canola Oil: Yes, reluctantly (because sometimes, you have to dine out)

While we don’t think vegetable oils are a healthy choice (understatement of the century), we don’t expressly rule them out on the Whole30. If we did, you’d never be able to eat outside of your own kitchen, because all restaurants use them in cooking. We wanted to create the healthiest program possible, but we also need it to be do-able for those who travel for business or pleasure, or simply want to dine out during the month.

Tip: Eliminate the consumption of vegetable oils at home, even if you’re not on the Whole30, and make sure the rest of your diet is focused on the most nutritious choices possible, especially if you dine out frequently." has a good article about eating out on Whole30, as does - Eating Out While on the Whole30 and  Whole30 Week 2, Eating Survival Guide. I'll try not to repeat too much of what they've already covered.

Never hesitate to ask your server questions. On a recent trip to Kona Grill, I weighed all options after talking with the server, and settled on sea bass and 2 sides of asparagus. The Saki in which the sea bass was marinated was not Whole30 compliant, but I erred on the side of what was available. I suggest you try harder than I did, but at the time, I was comfortable with my decision. My beverages were hot tea and a glass of water. We asked that they not bring bread to the table. Most restaurants are willing to comply with special requests. If they are not, perhaps that's not the best choice for the next dining out excursion.

One thing I do that helps with successful choice making is to consult a restaurant's menu online. There is a restaurant in Williamsburg called Old Chickahominy House. It's a local favorite for ham biscuits, stew, pies, chicken and dumplings, and other yummy foods. But if you're doing a Whole30, you do need to choose wisely. On checking their luncheon menu, you can see there are sandwiches, and all sorts of foods that don't quite fit right. Their fruit salad is great, but it has mayo and cheese, so you'd have to order it without those, or go for either of the other salads. The ham and Brunswick stew surely have sugar in them. I would ask about the stew. You could order it if it's sans sugar, but you will have to avoid the corn and potatoes in the broth. The deluxe hamburger plate might work. Ask for the burger without the bun and no fries or chips on the side. I chose this restaurant at random and you can see that though there are challenges, you could eek out a Whole30 meal.

Almost all restaurants have avocado. Ask for one sliced as your side dish and you can use it as an accompaniment for a steak, grilled chicken, or seafood. It sounds odd, but avocado also goes well with sweet potato as a butter substitute. If you have homemade mayo, take a small container with you when you eat out. Transform your mayo to a salad dressing too; you can order a plain salad or go to a salad bar and dress it yourself. Get some hard boiled eggs at that salad bar, add some of your dressing for an impromptu egg salad, and have it with tomatoes, cucumbers, or other items of your choosing.

Having said all of the above, please know that cooking for yourself is really the only way to know for sure if ingredients are handles and seasoned the way you want them to be. Along the way, I've cooked what I consider to be restaurant quality food. There are two reasons for that - I have changed how I buy food. I purchase high quality ingredients, focus on organic and farmers market items, and make several trips to the store to keep fresh vegetables and fruits on hand. Second is I'm a good cook! I've learned to cook low and slow, and I rarely cook things in a screaming hot pan. There are exceptions, but in general, I take it easy and enjoy what I do. I get into the chopping, spicing, cooking, and eating from beginning to end.

Eating out is often about the company rather than the food. Consult menus before you go, enjoy the people you are with, drink a Perrier if others order cocktails or beer, and think of all you're gaining, not what you are giving up.

My second true Whole30 starts Tuesday, April 8. I'm ready. I have the mindset, the references I need, and always have my copy of It Starts With Food.

What suggestions do you have for eating out while doing a Whole30?

Edit: The official word regarding eating out from the folks at Whole30 can be found on their site. 

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