Welcome to a new regular feature on the blog!
I truly believe that optimal nutrition comes from cooking for ourselves for as much of our food as possible, but I’m also a long-time fan of going out to eat and I have always loved restaurants. I also hear from many (busy, working) clients that they go out to lunch with coworkers and just don’t know what to eat that will still be healthy and nourishing and not take them off track. I love getting texts at lunch time with specific menu questions!
I decided to delve into this issue of healthy restaurant eating in my own backyard of Seattle, and regularly give examples of how we can either choose great healthy restaurants that make it easy, or create menu hacks in the ones that don’t. I will specifically focus on lunch in Seattle but you can apply these principles to any meal, in any city. Also, the finer the dining, usually the easier it is to make good choices. It's very difficult to find food out as healthy as what we can prepare at home, but there are ways to at least come close.
Admittedly, this first set of venues is more on the easy side- but I promise to up the challenge over time! If you have any special requests of write-ups of places that you find yourself visiting often, let me know in the comments and I will pay them a visit and see what I can do!
THRIVE CAFÉ www.generationthrive.com
Ok, this is really too easy, but I can’t resist. Thrive is a vegan restaurant in the Roosevelt neighborhood of north Seattle. I don’t necessarily advocate veganism in my practice and I’m not personally a vegan but no matter what you eat on a daily basis, pretty much anything in here is not only crazy healthy but really delicious and satisfying. Also, if you have food sensitivities, it’s a good chance you can find plenty of great choices right here. They use incredibly high quality ingredients, and the food is clearly made with attention, care, and love. They even make their own (seriously delicious) almond milk! It’s not listed on the menu as a separate item, but I just order it plain and it is fantastic. Of course, none of this is cheap, and it might cost a tad bit more than you are used to for lunch, but it is well worth it.
I can’t seem to come here without ordering the delicious Bhudda Bowl, but check out their online menu for other options. Yes, I will make a trek across town for that Bhudda Bowl…
WHOLE FOODS (BELLEVUE, ROOSEVELT, SEATTLE) www.wholefoodsmarket.com
Ok, ok, I know, another easy one…but maybe you didn’t realize just how good lunch at your local Whole Foods can be. I just love the custom feel of choosing exactly how much you want, and the speed and efficiency of not having to place an order. On this day I had a delicious collage of roast chicken, zucchini and tomato, kale salad, curry cauliflower, beet and carrot salad, roast fennel, artichokes from the salad bar, a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt. Phew!
A few caveats- you REALLY have to watch your ingredients here, a supposedly ‘Paleo’ dish on this afternoon had peanuts and Bragg’s aminos, both of which are most assuredly not Paleo; also, many things have a bit of dairy, soy, or wheat, so check the label carefully. Thankfully, everything is labeled quite clearly (they know their demographic). One more thing, a visit here can be the luck of the draw- I must have come right after the regular lunch rush, because three of the hot dishes I was interested in were down to bare scraps. Oh well, plenty of other things to choose from. Once again, depending on how high you pile your dish, lunch can get a bit pricey, but I always feel like I got my money’s worth.
GERALDINE’S COUNTER www.geraldinescounter.com
Right around the corner from my very own office in Columbia City is the lovely and charming Geraldine’s Counter. With a great atmosphere and the absolute nicest wait staff, you will feel welcome the moment you step in, and it’s no wonder the dining room is always hopping around lunchtime. This is a popular place to bring families, including my own. For a while I lamented the lack of menu items that fit my increasingly demanding dietary requirements (have you ever gone to lunch with a nutritionist? ahem..) but after taking some time to really study their menu I realized they have my perfect dish. A dish so sublime, so satisfying, that I regularly have a craving for it and must have it.
It is the corned beef hash. Made with butternut squash, bell peppers, potatoes, onions and celery. And two big eggs on top, however you like them. They even have gluten free toast; I’m not usually a fan of ‘gluten free’ items as they are often just processed refined carbohydrates, but it’s nice to have a bit of toast with your hash sometimes, and great to be able to do that gluten free. This dish is naturally dairy and gluten free, and has lots of veggies and good protein. And, it’s delicious. I usually add a bit of hot sauce for perfection. Those watching total carb intake might want to leave a few of the very generous serving of potatoes on the plate.
Let me know in the comments how you eat lunch out in a healthy way! And if there is any place you'd like me to add to the list!