The Paleo Diet seems extreme. No dairy, no bread, no sugar, no soy. It seems like eating out would be impossible. “Can you go out to restaurants?” or “do you eat meat?” a friend recently asked me. The answers to both are a resounding yes. I’ve slowly discovered that the Paleo Diet doesn’t mean much when you go do out to eat. Just be flexible and imaginative and you can make anyplace work (except maybe an ice cream parlor).
Behold the secret swaps everyone who wishes to eat more cleanly (or more cavewomanly) should embrace.
1. Mix and match. When the menu says “seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes” just ask to double up on the veggies and omit the mashed potatoes. And 97% of the time they won’t charge you extra for the substitutions.
2. Order delicious mega-salads. When in a pinch and nothing on the menu will conform, just order a salad and tailor it – ask for meat, or double the fresh vegetable toppings. Conversely, I recently had lunch at a wonderful restaurant featuring great sandwiches. I wasn’t about to give up a sandwich just because I don’t eat bread! Psht, as if! So I kindly (oh, so kindly) asked the waitress if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to have all the sandwich fixings, without the bread, piled on the side salad that it came with. Delicious. Easy. Not too big of a deal.
3. Send back the bread basket if you and your dinnermate are both paleo and willing to do so. If you’re doing the paleo/unprocessed food thing, it’s easier to say no to the bread basket before it even lands on your table. That way you won’t have to stare at it’s bready goodness for an entire meal.
4. Savor all the possibilities on the menu. I love food and I love menu reading. Don’t forgo the pleasure of reading about all those yummy pasta and dairy dishes even if you don’t order them. Read over the entire menu. Then figure out which one will be the tastiest and can be tailored to your needs
5. Always ask. Recently I went to a Vietnamese restaurant that has great Pho’. UnPHO’rtunately, pho is basically a big pot of broth with rice noodles. So I asked if instead of the rice noodles I could have them use a big bunch of bean sprouts (which they use liberally as a garnish and as a side dish). Again, no problem and I had a tasty tasty paleo/pho’ dinner