By Sarah Crawford
Eating out doesn’t have to mean you have to break your healthy eating routine. Instead study the menu for ingredients and preparation, and try one of these suggestions of dishes at downtown Homewood restaurants. You’ll also find some tips on substitutions and other ordering ideas to apply no matter where you go.
I’d suggest going for the Granola Parfait. Fresh nuts and seeds are filled with healthy fats and protein, and you’ll still get that sweet taste you’re looking for from the berries and granola without all the added sugars.
Big Bad Breakfast
Here, you’ll want to draw your attention to the “Lean Plates” section of the menu, and pay close attention to the Avocado Toast. Served on a thick slice of whole wheat toast, you’re sure to get the fiber and B vitamins you need to start the day off strong.
Holler & Dash
The Garden Goat might become your new breakfast go-to. Not only is it topped with everyone’s favorite superfood, kale, it’s also drizzled with a lemon dijon vinaigrette.
Dietitian Tip: Any chance I get I’m always substituting a vinaigrette for a heavier dressing, like ranch. Often these come with decreased amounts of added sugars and healthier fats like olive oil instead of heavy creams.
Just because it’s a doughnut shop doesn’t mean you can’t find something healthy—and delicious. I’d recommend the Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich or the Yogurt and Granola. Here’s something else you should know: Dietitians eat doughnuts, too, so be open to trying things outside your comfort zone (even though they might have a little sugar).
If you get stuffed on their chips and salsa and are looking for something a little bit lighter than cheese-drenched quesadillas, try the Classic Burrito Bowl. It’s packed with healthy greens and healthy fats, and you even have the option to substitute shrimp for some extra Omega 3s.
Real & Rosemary
Calling all veggie lovers, you’re about to hit the jackpot when it comes to a superfood lunch spot. My go-to at this spot is the Beet, Fig, and Goat Cheese Sandwich. Not only are beets a fun and unique addition to this sandwich, they’re also proven to be a great source of fiber, folate, and iron, and even aid in increasing blood flow.
Any bowl or smoothie you choose off of this menu is a good one, but if you’re looking to wave goodbye to added sugars, try choosing a bowl without the nutella and opt for one with honey drizzles (like the Farm Bowl) instead.
If you’re looking for a healthy stop on a busy day, order the Grilled Chicken Special paired with rice pilaf and a fresh garden salad. I always lean towards grilled meats, vegetables, etc. instead of fried foods because of the decrease in calories and fat. Fried foods have also been associated with carcinogenic properties (cancer-promoting), so that’s all the more reason to swap your fried choice for a grilled choice!
The Crab & Avocado BLT delivers a dose of healthy fats crab and avocado have to offer. Plus, it’s also served up with local greens and a specialty white Alabama barbeque sauce. For a side, go with the Mexican street corn instead of French fries for less fat and more flavor.
You can have a great, healthy pizza without losing all of your favorite textures and flavors. The Renaissance Pizza is piled high with vegetables like zucchini, red peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes—all nourishing ingredients that, when put together, taste like a dream.
Dietitian Tip: When it comes to pizza, I look for thin crust, leaner cheeses like feta and lots of vegetables. This helps to decrease the amount of grease you’ll be consuming.
Newsflash: you can enjoy your favorite barbecue hotspot without all the extra calories and fat. Go for the Smoked Tuna on Wheat sandwich to get some heart-healthy essential fatty acids into your diet. You could try the White Chicken Chili too to avoid consuming lots of saturated fat.
If you’re looking for something to satisfy that sweet tooth without all the added sugars, try the Healthy PB Cookie. It’s lighter on the butter and sugar, and substitutes oats for flour. Their new whole wheat Fit Fix cookie is also a great choice since it’s sweetened with banana and maple syrup and filled with sunflower seeds, pepitas, millet, walnuts, craisins and coconut.
Dietitian Tip: All foods fit into your daily diet. If you want that scrumptious chocolate chip cookie, go for it! Moderation is key.
Steel City Pops
Whether you’re in the mood for a fruity pop or a creamy pop, you can’t go wrong at this local popsicle joint. Every pop is gluten-free and made with organic cane sugar or honey, which means their sugar sources are much less refined. For the lightest option, both the Lime Pop and Cranberry Orange Pop are under 100 calories.
Tips for Your Coffee Shop Fix
Try these at Caveat Coffee, O’Henry’s Coffees or Seeds Coffee Co.
- Instead of going for the whole milk, try using an alternative milk like almond milk or oat milk, etc. These have the sweetness your latte craves but are lower in saturated fats and calories.
- If you’re looking to cut back on added sugars, ask for half the sweetener. Most syrups are just water and sugar simmered down together with some extra flavoring. Most of the time I can’t even tell the difference when I order only half of the sweetener.
- Order a regular cappuccino or latte instead of vanilla, caramel, pumpkin spice, etc. Milk is a natural source of sugar, and when sugar is heated it becomes sweeter. Most coffee drinks incorporate steamed milk, so you may find you don’t even need to add a syrup at all!