How to Order Healthy When You’re Eating Out

Even in a city like New Orleans, where I’m currently stationed for a few months as the nutritionist on a film, you can eat great, healthy food. And when I say “even in” I say that because right off the bat, when you think of New Orleans you’ll remember it is  known for its traditional Creole and Cajun cuisine, with items like jumbalaya, crawfish, gumbo, and my favorite name-po’boys- which are overstuffed meat sandwiches on white bread. You can imagine how I feel about that particular dish! I love the vibe, live music, people, weather, architecture, and just about everything about New Orleans, and I even do love the food. It hasn’t been any harder for me to eat here than LA. Here are some tips:



The first thing I look at in a restaurant menu is the salad selection. If the salads sound good with an abundance of greens and veggies, then I know this restaurant has a good chance of respecting veggies and having a lot of veggies I can construct a meal around. If there are no listed salads, or if it’s an obligatory, sad-sounding little bitty salad or a salad where the main feature is really the other items along with it, like the roquefort cheese or shrimp scampi, it is a bit of a warning sign because I know that it might be harder to get abundant veggie items at that restaurant. Of course it is doable, and believe me I do it all the time, but if I have any say in picking where we’re eating, I go with the restaurant that has good salads.

Here’s some restaurants that have great salad options- Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican and Japanese, just to name a few. Last night we ate at a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant here in NOLA called Byblos. It had outdoor seating, which is a huge plus with me. It wasn’t super fancy, but it had nice white tablecloths and the food was abundant and fresh, which in my book is more important than trendy decor!

Last night I started with a large Greek salad with no feta cheese and the dressing on the side. I also ordered a glass of red wine and drank most of that first, along with some water, so I had less liquids when I was eating to let my food digest better (liquids dilute digestive enzymes). I suggest skipping the goat cheese (which is far better than cow’s cheese) in your salad if you know you’re going to have heavier food later.

Here’s another thing to look for: Does the restaurant have a bunch of vegetable sides, or vegetarian side dishes, or do the meat dishes come with a lot of cooked veggies? If you are eating fish or some kind of land animal, you should ask for extra veggies and exclude any kind of starch, such as rice or potatoes. Here in NOLA you have to beware of the “stewed” veggie items, which are usually stewed in pork lard or bacon. Icky!!!

If you’re eating vegetarian, the fact there’s a lot of veggies at the restaurant gives you an indication you can get the chef to make you some kind of veggie platter, or at the very least order a bunch of sides and put them together if you have to. Mediterranean is an awesome cuisine because so many of the dishes are vegetarian. The chef made us a veggie platter with hummus, tabbouleh, lightly sauteed spinach (I asked for minimal oil), rice-stuffed grape leaves and falafel (okay it’s fried, but it is not an everyday food). It was so yummy, and I was able to truly eat to my fill! I didn’t feel like I had “starched” out, because with the huge salad, spinach, and mostly-parsley-tabbouleh, there were a ton of greens in the meal. The chickpeas in the falafel and hummus combined to go well with the couple of pita pieces I had and the rice in the grape leaves, since they contain protein and starch. Oh yeah, we had an appetizer of baba ganoush (eggplant with tomatoes, onions, etc.) and I put some of it on my salad.

During the day, we explored the French Quarter for a few hours. It was super hot. I had a big Glowing Green Smoothie first, which already put me in a good position to not eat “badly” during the rest of the day, and I was drinking a lot of water as I walked around. I didn’t see anything I really felt like eating, especially in the heat of the day, so I opted for some fruit at the outdoor market, which totally tied me over until I got home to my fridge in the hotel room. Of course, if push came to shove and I was truly hungry, I would have found something to eat by the guidelines above. And there are plenty of good desserts that are easy to make!

I’ll do more sample menus from other types of restaurants, if you guys are into that? What tips do you have for ordering out at your favorite types of restaurants?

Love to all! Kimberly

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74 Responses to “How to Order Healthy When You’re Eating Out

  1. Hi Kim!

    My husband loves eating fast food and I usually have a hard time trying to find food that fits into my Beauty diet. Any suggestions?
    Also, what do you eat on a typical night at home? I love to cook, but every since I became full vegan, I’ve been having trouble finding easy recipes.

    LOVE YOUR BOOK

    Thanks!
    Namaste
    – Karla

  2. Hi Kimberly,

    Great article! I was wondering about the hummus and falafel you ate. In your book you say it is not good to combine protein and cabs, but is chickpeas/beans not counted as a protein? Im confused because you ate this with rice and pita bread. Also should we just leave out beans, lentils and chickpeas from our diet all together? I am vegan and i have eliminated soy products and now wondering if i should eliminate beans?

    Thanks
    Amy

  3. Hi,
    Kimberly,
    question about traveling: Do you ask the hotel to take the bar stuff out of the frisge? I find that with all the overpriced crap in the hotel fridge that there isn’t enough room for the stuff I want in it…
    otherwise love your book and your blog, gives me lots of new ideas and recipes for eating raw.

  4. Thank you so much for all your book has done for my body, beauty, and energy! I am Greek and loved this menu, but Mexican Is my absolute favorite kind of food so I avoid Mexican places now so I would love a post on how to navigate their menus the beauty detox vegan way! Thank you so much for everything Kimberly!

  5. i feel that this meal you chose goes completely against what you preach in your book. i’ve given up these foods on your plate because of your book so maybe i don’t get your diet. your entire meal has tons of olive oil in it, in the dolmeh, hummus, falafel, tabouli but since the falafel was deep fried they used a different oil. also hummus has chickpeas which you stated in your book we should stay away from. also the dolmeh has rice in it and sometimes ground meat, but i’m pretty sure you asked for a vegetarian dolmeh. so i don’t get it, should we eat hummus?? right now all i’m eating is the hot lemon water, GGS, oatmeal and veggies and salads without dressing and i feel like i have no choices on what to eat unless i just eat the recipes in your book. i have cut out animal meats and dairy. how do you feel about Amy’s frozen foods, when you’re on the go??

  6. New Orleans can be challenging, especially for vegans, but there are more options than you think. There are many restaurants that are capable of preparing a vegan meal. GW Fins always has a great selection of vegetables on hand & will do vegan upon request. Other restaurants include Bayona, Green Goddess, Boucherie, Satsuma, Eco Cafe, Bennachin, Yuki Izakaya, 13, and there’s a new vegan pop-up kitchen in the Hi-Ho. Vegetarian is even easier. I don’t eat meat often (although more often when I go out) and have many pescetarian, vegetarian, and vegan friends, so I realize how difficult it can be.

  7. Hi Kimberly,

    I just have a quick question…
    I thought it was bad to have protein and starch together..
    Is it okay to eat hummus with pita? or have a falafel with rice in grape leaves?? Does this rule also mean a peanut butter sandwich is a no go?

    Thanks
    Allie

  8. Hi Kimberly! So glad that you posted this especially since I wrote on your blog yesterday and said that I travel every week for work and have such a hard time. However, without a blender readily available, what do you recommend for breakfast? I started purchasing this brand of drinks called Arden’s garden, and I’m super impressed by the taste and ingredients, but they aren’t available everywhere. Do you have any suggestions for getting a good start to the day?

    Thanks!
    Jenny

    • Hi Jenny,
      You can still have your hot water with lemon in the morning at a hotel. Then you can get some fruit (if you’re not a Blossoming Beauty), then some kind of high quality grain like a good granola. If you can bring some food, you could bring some gluten-free granola or millet bread, and have a slice of millet bread with some avocado on it, for a filling b’fast that will digest well. Can you bring food?
      xx Kimberly

  9. I happen to live about an hour and a half from NOLA. I absolutely love it. One restaurant that is GREAT for vegans is this African place, Bennachin, which is on Royal Street in the French Quarter. They have a lot of meat items, but no dairy; everything else is plant based. The food tastes wonderful. My favorite are their fried plantains, and I’ve never like those things anywhere else. Next time you’re in New Orleans, try it! :)

    • HI Julianne,
      Thank you I will! I looked up veggie places and it was listed, but I haven’t tried it yet. I will, thank you!

  10. Hi,
    I wanted to know if you teach yoga classes in Los Angeles.
    I would love to be able to participate.
    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • HI Lisa, unfortunately I don’t teach there, and I’m in NOLA at the moment on a film.
      But I will say that I love that Exhale in Venice, and there are great teachers at the Main Street YogaWorks.
      Shanti, Kimberly

  11. Hi Kimberly,

    Many thanks for the post on eating in my beloved city of New Orleans. As a local, I’d be most appreciative to learn more about eating out here and where to go to get the good stuff. Please share more!

    Many thanks,
    Roxy
    xo

  12. Great article! I am going out of town next month and would love some tips for going to breakfast. I’m not going to be able to make GGS in my room in the mornings.

  13. Hi kimberly,

    i really enjoyed this post. mostly because eating out is something i think a lot about. i find it is important for yourself to feel that your friends are comfortable with your personal dietary choices. so eating out has always been difficult for me. although my best friend is a celiac, she eats meat and so do most of our other friends.

    what i would love, is a new yorker’s guide to eating out in new york – cheap/simple/staple places and what to get while you’re there.
    -in fact, maybe i should write this up! i’ve lived in manhattan for four years, now am living in brooklyn (its been two years since i moved out here)
    to be clear – this is not the vegans guide to nyc – though i love that book! this is whats good to eat at staple new york restaurants.

    anyway, keep it up, and thanks for spreading this information

    yasmina

    • Hey Yasmina,
      Check out my Blackbook food picks for LA and NY. It’s in the press section I think…maybe you’ll check out the NYC gems I love!
      xx Kimberly

  14. Hi Kimberly!

    I have read your book and have been following your eating plan for a month now. I love your recipes in your book and think you should write a cookbook next:)

    Many thanks for all your great information!!!!

  15. I know you say no water too soon before or after eating but do you ever drink anything with your meal? Or is it all liquids that dilute the digestive enzymes?

  16. Hi Kimberly,
    I just finished reading your book and have been reading your blog/drinking the green smoothies for a year now. They have definitely helped my skin (which breaks out a lot). I still do have skin issues though and would like to start your diet plan. Here is my delhema… I have had celiac for about 5 years now and have avoided gluten, but lately I seem to be sensitive to all grains (including soaked quinoa). I haven’t tried the oats yet but with quinoa my face generally breaks out and looks bad shortly after eating it. What would you advise as far as starting the plan. Should I skip to the radiant beauty phase? I don’t know if I have candida but if I do I want to get rid of it. I also have not tried taking digetive enzymes with grains yet so maybe that would help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your book and for sharing your knowledge! :)

  17. LOVE this post! Please do more, especially one on Mexican food!

    One question, do you think most hummus in restaurants is made from fresh or canned chick peas? Hummus used to be my FAVORITE snack before your book and I often want to order it in restaurants but feel guilty.

    Thanks for all of your advice and continuing to help with your busy schedule!

    xo,
    Evyn Mustoe

  18. Hi Kimberly,
    I am not a vegetarian but I am incorporating the GGS or fruit for breakfast and salads or veggies for lunch with no animal protein until dinner. I would love it if you would post some more options for eating out. For example I love Chipotle and I was wondering if their Guacamole and salsa with corn chips would be an okay lunch choice. I live in Ohio where we are lacking in fresh farmers markets for 9 months out of the year, although I can get decent produce (mostly organic) at the grocery. Also how do you feel about wheat in bread etc if it’s organic? Just asking because my teen daughters are also doing this however we do have a soy and nut allergy to watch out for. I love your blog and your book!

  19. I love to learn more about eating out! I’m going to LA/Hawaii next week and I’m going to pack my copy of your book so that I can remind myself about all the tips you give.

    One questions, when is the best time to eat the chia Seed delight dessert in your book? After dinner?

    Also, is it ok to eat goat cheese on gluten free bread for dinner? After a salad of course.

  20. Dear Kimberly,

    Thanks for this post. After reading your book and other books on the subject. I have a question for you. If you could please give me your opinion on this. Thank you :)

    Some people say all fruits are too sweet and acidic inside the body, some say it depends how you eat it , some say mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise (even vegenaise) soy sauce, and those type of sauces are too acidic (some still use it), some say soy products are fine… even good for you, others say no…

    What’s your take on all these opposing views concerning the best foods to eat and how to eat them?

    I hope you can help me with this…

    Thank you ^_^

  21. hi kimberly.

    i am on day 2 of your blossoming menu. and i am determined to do this ! can i have decaf coffee ? just curious………

    thank you

  22. Hi Kim!

    Omg, I’m so glad you mentioned Mediterranean cuisine! I live in the middle east and have been so inspired by your book! I’ve already adapted changes, and thankfully, our cuisine isn’t heavily based on meats.
    I’m glad you mentioned hummus and and warak enab (which are the wrapped vine leaves!), especially baba ghanoush! They are staples in our diet here and I didn’t know if they would be detrimental to my new found way of eating (though I have been vegan for about 3 years now!)

    Just a quick question! I of course start my day with the GGS, then followed by Dharma’s Kale Salad for lunch or some form of salad. For dinner I usually have something ”cooked” (sorta), like tabouleh with some hummus or baba ghanoush on the side. I’ve always wondered whether it’s ok to combine the hummus/baba ghanoush with the tabouleh…Is it ok to eat them together in a meal? Should I opt for having the taboleh earlier? And, about the vineleaves, I know they’re a small serving, but they’re stuffed with white rice…is that ok to combine with the taboleh or with the hummus?

    Basically, you’re plate looks like what I have for dinner! (minus the falafels..) :)
    Lots of love xxx

    • Hi Coco!
      Yes it is okay to combine them, b/c it is basically a veggie/starch combo. Eat more of the tabouleh than the hummus, as I do. Chickpeas have protein and starch, and in this case you would treat them as a starch so they work w the rice (in moderation).
      Come visit me again soon!
      Kimberly

      • Hi:-)

        Just more question about tabouleh, classic recipe calls for bulglur( wheat) Do you eat it with bulglur wheat? Or you sub. with quinoa or may kamut bulglur( still gluten) but better option then wheat. What do you think?

        Thanks a lot

  23. Hi Kimberly,
    I just bought your book and I’m so excited about learning more about nutrition and beauty secrets. :)

    After reading this article, I have a request. ;)
    If possible, could you share what you eat and drink in a day?
    I would love to see what a typical day’s meals are like including a day when you can’t prepare/cook all your meals by yourself.

    I think many readers would be interested too.

    Thank you!!!

  24. I try to eat vegan most of the week. I do eat meat once or twice a week, but never dairy. I also eat organic tofu from time to time. I know both meat and tofu are not ideal, but I find it hard to completely cut them both out. If I cut one out, which should it be?

    I did read your book and it has really changed the way I look at food, so thank you very much. Slowly, I am incorporating your ideas into both mine and my husbands (he’s a tough one to convince) diet. I am also a Personal Trainer and have been passing your info along to many of my clients. With my clients, I have to ease them into things very slowly.

  25. Hi Kimberly,
    I saw you on tv recently and I decided to read your blog. After that, I decided to purchase and read your book. I have tons of food and environmental allergies, and I’ve recently been struggling to feel good, even though I have, for the most part, been avoiding those things. I am hopeful that the ideas in your book will be helpful to me in my quest to get healthy and feel great. Because of my allergies, I have been gluten and dairy free for about 8 months. Also, I’ve never been a huge fan of meat, except for the occasional hamburger, so I’m looking forward to trying this new way of eating. I was excited to see that you posted the specifics of a recent restaurant meal as an example of what to order when dining out. However, I am a little confused about the sample meal in your blog today. You said that you had some pita. Doesn’t that contain gluten? Also, it looked like there was some type of sauce on the falafel. Do you know what the sauce contained? Was it a dairy free sauce? Unfortunately, I have to avoid dairy and gluten at all costs or I get very sick. I often find it extremely challenging to eat at restaurants and often just avoid it because it seems so tedious. Anyway, thank you for posting this, and I look forward to future posts about ways to dine at restaurants while still following the basical principles laid out in your book.

    • HI Laurie!
      I too avoid dairy, and I am gluten-free in my daily life, except when I go out and eat a few things, just like in this meal where I had a few pitas. That sauce was a watered down hummus. :)
      You should eat out at Thai a lot, where it is easy to avoid both dairy and gluten. Do you like Asian food? I’ll do more ordering out blogs!
      And don’t worry, b/c more choices are opening up for you!!
      Love, Kimberly

    • Thanks Lauren! I will do more posts! And yes, I love it too- I love thin, silky summer shirts. :) thanks !

  26. I do find eating out in the U.S. fairly easy despote restrictions, but I’m going to Cabo in a few weeks (and i also have corn and tomato allergies), and I have no idea how I’m going to eat! I worry about their fresh produce because of the water situation down there. Any suggestions?

    • Cabo is so Americanized there will be a ton of different restaurants for you to choose from. You can focus on lots of cooked veggies, and get big sides of them when you order out. Eat peeled fruit too- like papaya!

  27. Kim,

    Thank you so much! Just bought your book and am truly excited about starting the program! I know you speak about the importance and benefits of natural skin products such as coconut oil and raw shea butter, etc. My question is related to sunscreen – I am fair skinned and spend ample time in Texas sun with need to protect my skin. Do you have any suggestions for effective sunscreen options that are best to use?

    • Get one that has titanium dioxide as the active ingredient and not oxybenzone or other toxins. Commercial sunscreens contain them!
      A decent, easy to find one is the Burt’s Bees brand!
      Love, Kimberly
      PS- wear a hat!!!

  28. Kimberly, can you explain why you suggest taking a pro-biotic first thing in the morning and at night? Thanks!

  29. I am going to Europe this summer. There is a lot of pasta and lots of carbs. Going to Naples and Grenda any tips beside having salad first,maybe you know places.My first time going and don’t want to break the plan. If the house we staying has a blender my mom told me we can do GGS but we not 100% sure on that. Where I live locally there is lot of junk food but my boyfriend and I found this place that not expensive and has organic burger, soda, fries, cheese, not the best but better then a local pizza. Also, that same place might open a vegan place soon!

    • The Med is awesome! I traveled Italy, Spain, Greece this summer and had tons of fresh fruit and greens. I don’t know if you’re strict vegan, but I was thriving on fruit, greens, and fresh fish.

    • Yes and take some digestive enzymes with you! If you can’t make the GGS every day be sure you are having a lot of salad, and you can even take some of those individual greens powder packets.
      Have fun, and stay active with walking!
      Oh, and watch all the oil in dressings, etc. Be sure to ask for it on the side.
      xx Kimberly

  30. I read your book and loved it. It gave me a better understanding of how different food combinations work and how I can help my body absorb nutrients better.
    I am Greek and what I cook daily is mostly traditional Greek dishes. You are right, Mediterenean cuisine is full of vegetarian choices, it makes it so easy not to eat meat and/or dairy.I wish people knew more about traditional Greek cuisine and that it is more than just lamb and gyros.

  31. Hi Kim! I just want to say that i’m impressed with your book, i can’t stop reading it! Probably i’m one of your first spanish readers and i’m really proud of it! I get noticed about your book for my favourite girl in the world Hilary Duff, she has always been my inspiration. I’m 21 and now i enjoy eating fruit and veggies. My mum is also interested about changing our habits of eating meat! I also improve my english while i’m reading your book! Thankyou so much Kim, you’re now one of my role models and i’m starting to eat much more healthy!
    Kisses from Madrid, Spain!

    Lara

    • Hola Lara,
      That is great!! I was in Spain for a press tour a few months ago, and I loved all the fresh produce. Yes, see if you can reduce some of that meat… there sure is a lot of meat slabs over there. ;)
      xx Kimberly

      • Wow! I would love you to come back here!
        I have a doubt: Can i eat chocolate? If yes, whatt is the best way to eat it? And, could you create a spanish inspired recipe? i love to cook for my family and boyfriend.
        Thankyou for everything Kim!
        Besos,

        Lara

  32. These are great tips, and I’m so glad I follow them! I do have a few of my own. I usually wait to order the heavier dish after I’ve already eaten my salad; this way, there’s a good 20 minutes that have passed before I begin consuming the heavier dish. This also prevents me from eating the starch or meat right away just because it’s right in front of me, or if it’s cooked, it prevents the dish from getting cold!

    I have a tendency to get really hungry if I go out to drink, so If I know I’ll be consuming alcohol, I make sure to load up on veggies and salads beforehand. If I’m still hungry while I’m drinking, I’ll get an order of sweet potato fries, depending on where I am. I make sure not to have more alcohol than is comfortable; otherwise, I’ll eat whatever’s right in front of me!

    • Wow, Dien, great tips!!!
      I love the one about ordering the entree later. I do that too, and I hate feeling rushed or when they rush to clear plates. I like to relax and take my time, and have good conversation.
      Makes for great digestion!
      love, Kimberly

  33. The vegetarian platter looks very appetizing. I created a similar greek inspired menu for yesterday’s party I was catering. everybody loved the freshness and “springiness” of the raw sprouted quinoa stuffed peppers and dried fig-tomato-olive tapenade. I love being creative with simple ingredients and converting traditional dishes into a vegan/raw alternative. I always order guacamole and salsa and vegetarian tamale in mexican restaurants but i feel like the japanese cuisine is providing the most abundance of fresh and healthy vegetarian/vegan options (kimpira, edamame, seaweed, tofu, daikon, yuba,maki….) looking forward to hearing more about your culinary adventures in New Orleans! Enjoy the sunshine and good food!

    • Hi Lisa, that’s great to be creative!
      But I definitely skip the tofu!!! Check out the info here and in The Beauty Detox Solution on soy.
      xx Kimberly

  34. Thanks Kimberly, great information!

    Here in Australia, I usually look up a menu online in advance, if i know the name of the restaurant.

    That way I can be sure there is something suitable and vegetarian :)

  35. Thank you for all of the tips!

    This post was particularly helpful for me.

    I’m 6 wks in and feeling fantastic. Not only have I dropped weight and belly fat but I’m actually thinking so much clearer.
    It’s hard to believe how much better I feel, mind and body!
    The GSS is my saving grace.

    I’ve recommended your book to everyone that comments on my attitude and appearance.

    I love that it’s not just a diet but a lifestyle.

    Thanks so much!

  36. Sample menus would be super helpful! Eating at restaurants is usually where I fall off the “healthy boat.” Question. I have a major sweet tooth, and love to end a meal with something sweet–generally fruit or something fruit based in the past–but this seems to go against the food order/combining method. Do I need to forgo it?

    Thanks!

    • Yes forgo the fruit or fruit-containing desserts, as fruit will ferment when eaten after heavier foods. Try keeping some dark chocolate on hand, to help nip the sweet craving after a meal. xx Kimberly

  37. Dear Kimberly,

    Great post and very useful information. I recently stumbled upon your website and book thanks to veggiegrettie.com. And I have to admit that I completely devoured all your youtube videos and blog posts in only two days ;) I plan on buying your book soon as well. I find that it contains a lot of important and practical information.

    I have a question for you though.
    I have been vegan for only two months now (I went right from omnivorous to vegan- no transition time…or maybe just a week for eggs and some dairies like cheese) and despite the challenges, I am loving this new way of eating and all the health benefits it has been having on me. I cannot believe I was not aware of all this information before and I am glad I discovered it :)

    I have always been passionate about health (health promotion especially) and I am convinced that I have found my true calling career-wise :p.
    However, being new with all this information, I find it extremely confusing to know which advices to follow and to what extent.
    how do I reconcile all the diverging views on some of details of a healthy diet??
    Some people say all fruit are too sweet and acidic inside the body, some say it depends how you eat it , some say mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise (even vegenaise) soy sauce, and those type of sauces are too acidic (some still use it), some say soy products are fine… even good for you, others say no…Some say don’t eat any sugars (even agave nectar and dates…), only use Stevia, others still use them…

    I mean the list goes on and on. I am having a hard time reconciliating all that information :/ Granted they are a lot of common information which I do follow and agree with…but for the rest, how do I decide what’s the best?

    I hope you can help me with this. I am sorry if this post is a bit long.

    I love your website, book and blog. You are a true inspiration.

    Thank you ^_^

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