Dining Out At Panera Bread.

I decided to add a new page to the blog’s headline.

Introducing: “Dining Out”

I love eating out and trying new foods.  I also love that it’s completely possible to eat well at many restaurants, with new menu items popping up all.of.the.time.  From chain restaurants to the small ma and pa cafe’s, I thought it would be fun to include some of the healthy options/requests/orders that are available out there.

Today, I stopped in at Panera Bread, which is one of my favorite places to eat when I’m out and about.

U-Pick-2 Option:  Black Bean Soup.  Classic Salad.  Whole Grain Baguette (that’s a special request, as the order will automatically deliver a white baguette unless you ask.)

It’s delicious.  Filling.  Soul satisfying.

I only wish I knew what the secret was to their black bean soup (there’s cumin, red onions and black beans in there, and that is all I know!)

When I’m dining out, I like to include some protein (i.e., black bean soup), vegetables (i.e., salad) and a whole grain if possible (i.e., whole grain baguette.)  These three combined, along with a little fat (i.e., fat used in making soup and/or salad dressing) keeps me deliciously full for hours.

It also gives me plenty of energy to shop, shop, shop.  Which is exactly what I did all day. 😀

QUESTION: What is your favorite “chain restaurant”?  I’m a big fan of Panera and the Cheesecake Factory.

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healthy living while dining out.

This is Part 28 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

Nicole and I drove up to New Hampshire to visit my brother Matt and his girlfriend Kelsey today!

They showed us all around their home and their quaint little town…

(…and then I fell in love with their cat, Ellum.  Sigh.  I need a dog or a cat in my life. 😉 )

Around 12 o’clock or so, our stomachs drove the four of us into Portsmouth, NH.

Portsmouth, NH, is this awesome, trendy little  town full of quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants.  It’s a lot like Northampton, MA.  Only larger.  I absolutely love it.  In fact, if I didn’t have my heart so set on living in Rockport someday, I’d consider this the town after my own heart. 😉

For lunch, we decided on a place called Flat Bread Pizza.

Eating out is such a rare (i.e., special!) occasion these days.  So when I’m eating out, I tend to focus less on eating “healthy foods” and more on “staying balanced.”  I don’t want to walk out feeling stuffed (ick,) but I also don’t want to walk out feeling deprived either.  

Balance!

Which is, really, the whole point of “healthy living” anyways.

Nicole and I split a large side salad and the veggie pizza…

This was an easy option since we both tend to have pretty similar tastes in most things.

Obviously. 😉

I’m really not one for following hard and fast “restaurant rules” while dining out.

Mostly because I believe that a “diet” is a way of life.  And life without sweet potato fries or the occasional slice of cheesecake just isn’t living.  I do, however, always find myself ordering a large salad to take the edge off.  And I love sharing my favorite foods with friends and family, so splitting is an easy option!

I don’t, however, believe in swearing off any one food in particular.

It’s all about balance.  Saying no to the extra hunk of bread and saying yes to the sharing of dessert.  Saying no to the extra-extra-extra cheese pizza and saying yes to the cappucino.  Saying no to one more bite (when your stomach says you’ve had enough.)  Saying yes to that post-dinner walk.

Because it never hurts to finish the meal off with a little walk down main street.

(Oh gosh.  We’re sooo serious when we get together!) 😉

I guess I don’t have much to say in the area of dining out.

A lot of it depends on how often the dining out occurs, what types of foods are usually selected, and what the goals of the individual are (weight loss?  weight maintenance?  weight gain?)  One of the best ways to start the process of incporating dining out into a healthy living plan is just to know yourself and your own personal goals.  And then to find your own personal weaknesses and find strategies on how to get around them.

For example, I can never turn down cheesecake at the cheesecake factory.  Never.  It’s just not happening.  So I’ve learned that it’s easier to just skip the bread basket ‘n’ butter and the appetizers, thereby saving room to savor the dessert with a few friends (and an espresso!)  Balance, balance, balance.

That is, after all, what healthy living is all about.

QUESTION: What are some of your best strategies for healthy living while dining out?