10 Tips to Eating Healthy While Eating Out

One of the hardest parts about consistently eating healthy is when you have to eat out. Finding healthy items on a menu you're unfamiliar with can be tricky, but we don't think that you should have to give up your social life when you decide to make a healthy change in your lifestyle! There will always be dinner dates or girls brunches you just can't say no to, so we have rounded up 10 tips on how to eat healthy while eating out.

1. Pick a health conscious restaurant.

With health and wellness trends on the rise, there are more and more restaurants popping up that are offering tons of healthy options on their menus. The best way to healthy while eating out is to pick a restaurant that specializes in it!

2. Look at the menu ahead of time.

Checking out the menu ahead of time is a great way to figure out if a restaurant is going to work for you! If you're worried there might not be any healthy options on the menu, checking it out ahead of time gives you the chance to suggest another location for your meal! It will also help you to keep from making any spur of the moment decisions that take you off track from your fitness goals.

3. Skip the bread or chips.

We know it can be so tempting to snack on free bread and butter or chips and salsa when you're out to eat, but they are full of lots of unnecessary calories! If you're already eating a meal that is slightly outside your normal restrictions, it is a good idea to skip the extra sodium and carbs. If you're worried about not being able to resist, order a healthy appetizer or have a small, healthy snack before you get to the restaurant so you aren't tempted!

4. Ask for olive oil and vinegar instead of salad dressing.

There is nothing worse than thinking you're eating healthy and ordering a salad, only to find out that it had more calories than a regular entree! Salad dressing is usually the culprit here and can often be hiding all kinds of sugar, sodium, and extra calories. Opt for a healthier alternative like olive oil and vinegar to know exactly what is going on top of your salad!

5. Split an entree with a friend or take half of it home with you.

Huge restaurant portions can be your diet's worst enemy. It can be hard to stop eating while the food is in front of you, so if you're going to a restaurant that you know serves large portions, ask your waiter or waitress to split the entree between two people, or to box up half the entree from the get go!

6. Don't be afraid to ask questions or special food preparation.

If your friends aren't on the same healthy kick that you are, it can be intimidating to speak up at the table about what you need! Try to find an item on the menu that is almost within your health parameters, and ask the waiter to make substitutions or changes. Almost every restaurant can sub in a side salad or steamed veggies instead of calorie heavy options.

7. Avoid foods that are breaded, fried, or sauce-heavy.

Anything breaded or fried is always tempting, but full of unhealthy fats and calories. The key is to avoid these items all together! Ask for grilled chicken instead, or get the cream sauce it comes with on the side so you can control how much you eat! Look for food that has been steamed, grilled, roasted or poached.

8. Skip the sugar-heavy drinks.

Cocktails are generally made with sugary syrups and unhealthy sodas. If you can't skip the drinks all together, try substituting something simpler like a glass of white wine or mix your liquor of choice with soda water!

9. Have a cup of coffee instead of dessert.

It can be difficult to hold out when everyone else is enjoying dessert, but ordering a coffee gives you something to enjoy with the table! Restaurant desserts are packed full of sugar, so avoid these above all else!

10. Don't be too hard on yourself!

When it comes down to living a balanced, healthy lifestyle, one meal isn't going to make or break you! Make sure to plan ahead and think about what meals are worth splurging on. Think of it as a 80-20 balance. If you eat clean 80% of the time, you can treat yourself 20% of the time! After all, making a change for your own health and wellness shouldn't be something to stress or feel badly about! We are all human and deserve a little leeway every now and then, especially when it comes to a healthy diet. You don't need to be perfect to make progress!

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Summer BBQ Tips with Ari Weiswasser of Glen Ellen Star

There is nothing quite like a summertime barbecue and we sat down with the oh so talented Ari Weiswasser of Glen Ellen Star to bring you the best tips and tricks for wowing your guests. 

Ari and his team at Glen Ellen Star specializes in a wood-fire cooking technique that brings out the best flavors of their California inspired dishes. Centered on an open kitchen, Glen Ellen Star encourages both culinary and social conversation while serving a seasonally inspired dishes. The culinary team sources ingredients from amazing gardens and local producers in order to craft daily menus that showcase the best of the region.

We asked Ari for some tips on how to cook up the perfect summer barbecue meal, and he did not disappoint! Ari swears by a few simple methods, focused first on the ingredients, and then on simple, but perfectly executed cooking methods.

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Interact with your garden or local farmers market.

Whenever possible, Ari pulls ingredients from Glen Ellen Star's garden. The second place he goes to for ingredients are the local farmers markets. We are so fortunate in wine country to have access to high quality, locally grown fresh produce, and it is one of the easiest ways to take your cooking to the next level. 

This fresh produce is where you should draw inspiration for your menu- let what is seasonal and available dictate the direction in which you take your menu.

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Prepare as much as you can ahead of time.

Ari's experience in both the restaurant and catering worlds have taught him that preparation is key to pulling off a flawless meal. Use seasonal fruits and vegetables to make preserves, hot sauce, or vinegar ahead of time to take a simple dish to the next level. If you have your own citrus tree, fig tree, or other fruit tree's growing on your property you can utilize more of the harvest by creating these "condiments" that will keep far longer than the fresh fruit itself. Similarly if you are growing vegetables, try pickling them or making preserves to top salads, grilled meats, or to have as a side with your main dish. 

By making these things ahead of time, you can add a quick punch of flavor to any dish easily and quickly on the day of your gathering!

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Balance your flavors- some heat, high acidity, a hint of smoke, and a light lean meat make for the perfect summer palate. 

Once you have chosen your seasonal produce- these rules can help to create a sophisticated yet relaxed summer palate within your meal. A heat might come from a mild chili seasoning or hot sauce, while the high acidity might come from vinegar, citrus or pickles you made ahead of time. The smokey flavor will come from your cooking method- either grilling or wood firing your protein or veggies. Ari recommends using either madrone or oak wood to infuse the classic smokey flavor that pairs so well with a lean meat for summer time. 

All of these flavors pair beautifully with a white wine or crisp rose, and make for a refreshing, effortless summer meal that all your guests will enjoy. 

If you need a great example of how to do this, head to Glen Ellen Star for a meal. You are sure to leave inspired by the cuisine!

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