Dining out anyone?
Tips and tricks to keep you in the Zone
Dining out can be described as one of the great American pastimes. Who doesn’t love getting together with friends and family to relax and catch up on things over a great meal? There’s my monthly lunch with the girls I’ve been friends with since kindergarten, and then there are the weekend trips to visit family, that lobster shack at the beach, the corner tavern in the city and the new restaurant in town we’ve been dying to try.
On a recent trip to the Washington, D. C., area, I found myself in a Lebanese fast-food restaurant for lunch. Back in my early Zone days, I might have thrown in the towel on this one by grabbing my trusty Zone bar I keep stashed in my bag, but not anymore.
No problem. I just put Zone-At-A-Glance into action. It’s the tried-and-true, easy way to build a Zone meal by choosing lean protein the size and thickness of your palm, filling up the rest of your plate with colorful vegetables and fruit and then adding a dash of some good fat, such as olive oil, avocados or almonds. I chose the grilled chicken skewer, some hummus and a very generous portion of a delicious cucumber and tomato salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and herbs.
When it comes to eating out, a change in mindset, specifically in how I approach reading a menu, has been the biggest factor in allowing me to feel liberated from the abundance of bread and pasta out there. This was not an abrupt change, but more of an evolution. The Zone has become so ingrained in me that I find myself scanning the pages for appetizers, salads and entrees, scarcely giving a look at the sandwich and pasta sections. I’m no longer immediately drawn to the most indulgent offerings. The protein choice is foremost in my mind. I typically pass quickly over the beef and pork selections in favor of poultry, seafood, and soy-based dishes. When I see pasta, rice or bread involved, I usually move on. A rare exception was last week when I enjoyed a grass-fed beef burger. To keep it Zone friendly, I left most of the bun on the plate.
To complete my meal, I look for various vegetable salads and casseroles. Vegetables have entered the spotlight. At most restaurants they are plentiful and are served in fun and tasty combinations. As long as they’re not creamed or loaded with cheese sauces, they’ll be a great choice.
To translate all of that into actual food on your plate, here are some of the meals I’ve enjoyed in the past few weeks at various types of restaurants.
At an American bistro I chose the rock shrimp salad dressed with homemade garlic aioli, cabbage and carrot slaw and a bowl of black bean and vegetable soup.
Outdoors last week at a tavern in New York City we dined on roasted wild Alaskan salmon served on a vegetable puree, mussels, an arugula salad, blackberries and a small glass of wine.
My favorite meal at a nearby American-style grill is the marinated Mediterranean salad composed of chopped lettuce, olives, feta, cucumber, red pepper and tomatoes, topped with bronzed shrimp, with a cup of vegetable soup on the side.
An exceptional vegetarian meal at café we frequent is the zucchini stuffed with a blend of reduced fat cheeses, accompanied by a bowl of minestrone.
When the gang is in the mood for sushi, no need to pass on it. I order the sashimi (fish without rice) and a couple of veggie salad sides.
And at that lobster shack I mentioned earlier, you’ll spot me with a boiled lobster, easy on the drawn butter, a side of coleslaw and either some fresh blueberries in season or a small dish of ice cream. For more ideas visit Sherlock Zone at Zonediet.com.
Today’s eateries are more on the edge, more daring and less rigid in their offerings. They’re eager to please. Most are very open to requests to tailor meals to meet their diners’ needs. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the menu, don’t be shy, just ask.