Healthy Options When Eating Out : The Breakfast Club
It’s a common saying — ‘Abs are made in the kitchen’. While it isn’t quite as simple as that, one can’t deny that diet is a massive factor in your fitness journey. Your HIIT workout can easily be undone if you eat pizza 3 days a week, or if every meal is accompanied by a can (or bottle!) of sugary, aerated cola. The TwitterGetsFitter tribe often asks me for advice on how to select healthy options when eating out, so I decided to make a list of the stuff I personally prefer to order.
Before I do that, I also want to emphasise that while it’s definitely important to be conscious of what you order and eat, don’t let it take over your outing. If you’re out with friends for a pizza party, don’t be “that guy” who hyperventilates and demands a salad. If you eat a veggie & protein loaded sandwich, and you find it also has some cheese, don’t freak out. While on your journey to get fitter and healthier, don’t develop a hatred of food. As I mentioned in this Instagram post of mine, it’s nourishment, not punishment.
So here’s a list of a few of my favourite, (relatively) healthier breakfast choices when eating out.
Perhaps my favourite item to order, and also how I judge a restaurant’s breakfast chef. The “vegetarian” version of the very popular Eggs Benedict, the Florentine version features creamy, sautéed spinach instead of ham.
Now before you say it, yes, Eggs Florentine contains bread. Yes, carbs. But look at what else it contains — protein-rich eggs, iron- and fibre-laden spinach, and so much flavour! My personal favourites have been at Theobroma in Mumbai, and Monkey Bar in Bangalore.
Dosa and Filter Coffee
This is where my South-Indian genetics kick in. I may have grown up in Bombay, but there will always be a special place in my heart — and stomach — for a good ghee dosa and a tumbler of filter coffee! It’s my standard order anytime I stop by a Saravana Bhavan restaurant.
Dosa is made of a fermented batter made of rice and urad dal (black gram lentil). This translates to it being a great source of healthy carbohydrates (yes, you heard me. Your body needs carbs!), as well as vegetarian protein. When made with ghee, you get the added benefits of good fats and vitamin D, all wrapped up in a low-calorie, nutritious meal. Teaming a dosa with coconut chutney and/or sambhar also allows you the benefits of coconut’s good fats, and the flavour and wellness that the spices in sambhar provide.
And then comes the filter coffee. Sigh. I could write sonnets about this signature South-Indian beverage! Fresh brewed decoction is tumbled with boiled, frothed milk and a little bit of sugar, and traditionally served in a brass tumbler duo. I find filter coffee just doesn’t taste right without sugar, so it’s the only time I break my no-sugar-in-coffee rule.
There has been a great deal of debate over the pros and cons of coffee, with researchers being unable to really make up their minds. But ask any true-blue South Indian, and they’ll tell you it wakes you up, comforts you, and can make a day infinitely better. Also, coffee has been found to contain a great deal of antioxidants, which protect you from free radicals. Translation: Great for your skin, and can fight cancer! That said, don’t overdo it. Too much of a good thing, and all that. 🙂
This is my Mumbaiikar side speaking. I was introduced to poha by a Maharashtrian friend, and oh, how I fell in love with it! Light, flavourful, and yes, very healthy.
Poha is made of flattened rice flakes, which are loaded with vitamin B, iron, protein, and healthy carbohydrates. It’s also gluten-free, and helps stabilise blood sugar. Poha is usually prepared with lemon and peanuts, which provide a nice dash of vitamin C, protein, and antioxidants. It’s also light and easy to digest, so it’s a great option for those days when your digestion is feeling sluggish.
Also, it’s frikkin’ delicious!
Fresh Fruit or Fruit Smoothies
There’s no arguing the bazillion health benefits of fresh fruit for all-round nutrition. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre — they’ve got it all! Most restaurants, particularly buffets, usually have a generous variety and supply of fresh fruit available, and there’s really no going wrong with loading a plateful.
If chunks of fruit aren’t your thing, or you would prefer to have them accompany your breakfast, a smoothie is a great alternative. Chunks of fresh fruit, blended with skim milk, coconut milk or yoghurt, make for a nutrition-packed and easy-to-consume option.
If making one at home, you could even add a scoop of whey protein and/or some chia seeds for added benefits. Now remember, a smoothie is different from a milkshake. Milkshakes are usually strained, so you lose out on a lot of fruity goodness and fibre.
These are my top recommendations and preferences for healthy breakfast options when eating out. Have any recommendations you think should be on the list? Tell me in the comments. I’m sure there are SO many delicious and healthy breakfast options from across the country, that I may never even have heard of!
I’ll be back soon with more recommendations to help you choose healthy options when eating out. Until then, stay happy, and stay healthy.