Thursday, October 6, 2016

Healthier Dining Options

Even though I don't follow a specific diet, I'm such a picky eater.  My friends already know this, when it comes to eating out, I veto out so many choices. In fact, during shoots or work, I usually just prefer bringing my own meals so I can control my portions and the food I eat and I won't have to bother others to figure out what food I would be eating.

So what do I eat? Basically, I eat whole, good food - food that's not processed or loaded with so much chemicals the nutritional value of the actual food is practically nonsense. Now that I'm more discerning of what goes into my system, our fridge has to be updated. There's fruit (bananas are a staple), lean meats and good seafood because I love seafood. eggs, real cheese (ABSOLUTELY NO FAKE CHEESE!), brown/black rice, quinoa, oatmeal, nuts, and soy and/or low fat milk among others. The first thing I got out of my grocery list was hotdog and vienna sausage, most especially the red ones which have so many ingredients I could not pronounce and I'm sure the body doesn't need (guys, do a favor to your children and do not feed them hotdog). Did you know hotdog causes cancer? I also do not buy instant mixes and cook my pancakes and waffles from scratch. There's a big difference with using real eggs, real buttermilk, real flour, and not having the weird hard-to-pronounce stuff in your pancake mix box. Unless we are recovering from a big calamity, eat real and not fake food. Also, if you notice, I like food that's fun, flavorful, pretty, and yummy. I make sure I enjoy what I eat.

In times when I go eat out and if there's no food in the house, here are my choices as to where I eat. Yes! We can still eat clean and have healthy food choices even while eating out. Eating out isn't just fast food joints (which is the empire of fake food full of sodium and more chemicals and recycled cooking oil). We can still get our health fix outside the house and dine normal food with friends and family! Just look at these amazing choices

Japanese Food

Fresh Sashimi from Diamond Hotel Buffet
Japanese food is yummy as it is gorgeous. The Japanese treat their food as an art form - it's like everything served to you is worthy of an IG photo. I get Japanese hot tea to warm my belly and miso soup.  In buffets, I prefer sashimi over sushi because the rice just fills you up. I'm not really fond of ramen because I find ramen too salty. I get cold soba noodles instead with pickled ginger on the side. I like tempura as well, It's a great way to introduce veggies to children as well (especially sweet potato). I try not too have a lot of tempura though, because it is still deep-fried in oil.

Vietnamese Food 

Seafood Pho at Pho 2000 in Vietnam
When I went to Vietnam last 2011, I hardly had any photos or even blogged about the trip, probably because I enjoyed the food so much. It's hard to describe Vietnamese food, and the only thing to describe it is awesome. There's so much flavor I could write an entire blog post about it. Also, vegetables! I do not understand the hate for vegetables because they're so fresh, nutritious, and they're good for you. I love fresh spring rolls and pho. The guys over at Pho Hoa always know what I order already. If I want a break from pho, I usually get vermicelli bowls.

Ca Phe Saigon's spring rolls.
Here in Manila, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant is Ca Phe Saigon in Marikina - it's almost like the real thing! I have a regular suki already in Mercato Centrale in Glorietta that sells Vietnamese food such as banh mi, fresh spring rolls, and Vietnamese noodle bowls. They also sell real Vietnamese coffee. Just ask for less condensed milk if you want it less fattening. Back to that trip in Vietnam, on our last night, my companions decided to take a break from pho and ordered pizza. I did not even acknowledge the presence of pizza and ordered chicken pho from the Pho 24 restaurant downstairs.

Thai Food
Simply Thai's Pad Thai in an Egg Net
This cuisine also is all about flavor! I have so many Thai food favorites I like dining in a restaurant like this with friends so I get to taste everything. There's the fresh spring rolls, the pomelo salad, crispy catfish salad, green chicken curry, satay with peanut sauce, pad thai, I opt for vegetarian or seafood pad thai instead of having some pork in it and I don't order rice. Most especially during the summer, I can't miss sticky rice with mango so I share it with friends to get the craving satisfied instead of finishing up one entire order (there's still sugar and rice in it!)


Sambal Shrimp and Sambal Kangkong in Vivo City Food Court in Singapore
For Singaporean food, give me sambal anything, I'll eat it - sambal kangkong, string beans, shrimp, squid, or sting ray. I also like chicken rice (steamed, please!) but I only consume half of the rice  and give the other half to the friend who wants it. I load my chicken with ginger and chili for more flavor. I love ginger! Not only does it give the spice that I want, it's also good for digestion issues and nausea.

Filipino Food

Locavore Sizzling Sinigang
It's hard to find healthy choices for Filipino food because our diet is rich in sodium and we need to consume lots of white rice to offset the flavor. I myself am not too fond of a lot of Filipino dishes because I find them too heavy on the belly. I usually make healthified versions of Filipino food at home, where I can control the amount of sugar and salt in it as well as the amount of oil. I also use leaner cuts of meat and cook in coconut oil instead of regular cooking oil. When I'm out though, I request for brown rice if available and order vegetables and seafood. I like gising-gising to go with chicken adobo. I would choose grilled seafood over crispy pata or dinuguan (which I do not eat in the first place). I like sinigang and kare-kare but in kare-kare, I just eat the vegetables and skip the bagoong. The peanut sauce already has enough flavor anyway. I try to not have much of the kakanin and stick to fresh fruit instead.  I also try to control my portions and not reach for seconds. Having brown rice is not an excuse to eat a mountain of food my body might not be able to handle.

Italian Food

Nonna's Pasta and Pizza in Nuvali serves everything fresh - even their pasta! 
What I like with Italian food is how simple the dishes are, yet they do not scrimp on flavor. Of course, I order pizza and pasta in every Italian restaurant but I always choose oil-based or tomato-based sauces instead of heavy, creamy ones. I try to get toppings such as artichokes, mushrooms, olives, and bell pepper in my pizza, and of course, mozzarella cheese. I like Italian restaurants which have everything fresh and made from scratch - even the pizza dough, tomato sauce, and pasta. That way, you know that there's less fake food in what you're eating. I like Nonna's in Nuvali, Bistro Ravioli, Amici, and Gino's Brick oven Pizza, which serve fresh, flavorful food.

American Food

Grilled Salmon, and a side salad with mashed peas, Food from The Daily Grub
Since I'm not too fond of American food, I usually stop at the soup and salad portion of the menu. I just order clear or vegetable soup and salad, usually choosing something with an oil or vinaigrette based dressing rather than creamy. I get a little portion of steak, but not the entire slab. I opt usually for fresh lemonade (nothing powdered!)  instead of sodas and a few spoonfuls of dessert.

Mediterranean Food

Mediterranean lunch at Sufi Turkish and Mediterranean Cuisine in Arab St. in Singapore
I ate in a little Mediterranean Restaurant in California in my last visit there, and although it was more than 10 years ago, the flavors stuck in my head. As you can see in this post, although I eat real food, real food does not mean sad food. I like food with color and flavor. I like happy food, and Mediterranean food has so much happy, healthy choices that will leave you smiling. I love their salads and feta cheese and of course, their kebabs. My usual choices are chicken or seafood served with grilled veggies with a squeeze of lemon for flavor.  Here in Manila, I go to Cafe Mediterranean, and some of my favorites are their kebab platter (I usually get chicken, tuna, or beef, depending on how much I worked out). I also like getting a sampler platter of hummus, tsatziki, and tabbouleh served with whole wheat pita bread. One recommendation for vegetarians is their lentil burger.

When I started taking away bad things and started eating better, I thought I'd be doomed for life eating at home and would result in just the salad option whenever I would have to go out. Turns out, there are also healthy and filling choices in several restaurants. These healthier options are hardly even sad food. They're happy and quite filling and you felt that you really ate well. In eating out though, we always must remember to control our portions aside from making the right choices to avoid that uncomfortable bloated or heavy feeling. It can be as simple as choosing white meat over red meat or getting more plant-based protein. We can choose to eat sorbets or yogurt instead of ice cream or even choosing pasta primavera instead of carbonara or alfredo. I really don't follow a standard diet but I do try like certain dishes from that diet (like a paleo or raw vegan recipe, for example, even if I'm neither). What I do keep track of is the kind of food I'm eating and how much I'm eating.

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