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Tips for Eating a Healthy Breakfast at a Diner

15 Mar

You can get a nice, healthy breakfast at the "Seinfeld Diner" in New York City.

My boyfriend loves eating out at breakfast time. I’m not talking about a nice bowl of oatmeal from Starbucks, no, no. This boy lives for a nice,  “healthy” breakfast from a diner. As you can imagine, this makes for an interesting situation since I am the self-proclaimed healthy eating police.

We typically only spar over eating out at breakfast time while on vacation, but the other day I decided to throw him a bone and suggested that we try out some yinzer (for those of you not from the area, a yinzer is a “special” species of Pittsburgh local) morning hot spot near our house.

As usual in dinerland, it was glaringly obvious that the average patron wasn’t looking for a healthy breakfast. Thankfully they were armed with egg white omelets on their menu, clearly prepared to take down people like me, who refuse to go to such establishments because they don’t comply with our healthy eating standards. Wise move, diner management, wise move.

Tips for Finding a Healthy Breakfast at a Diner:

  • Ask for Egg Whites. Something tells me there’s more people looking for a healthy breakfast at a diner than you’d think, because surprisingly, most offer egg white omelets. They’ll charge you an extra $1 or so for it, but can you really put a price on not being a fatty?
  • Don’t Get Cheesy. Cheese is good, we all love it, but like all good things, it must be kept in moderation. Diners don’t understand the term “moderation.” Therefore, if you’re really trying to have a healthy breakfast, you need to avoid the cheese altogether. Trust me, you’ll live, and you’ll look fab.
  • Just Say No to the Slime. Diners always feel the need to fatten up your toast by buttering it for you, so ask them to serve it in its natural form. I just don’t get it, if I order a cheese-less vegetarian egg white omelet, with wheat toast, wouldn’t common sense state that I’m probably a healthy eating freak? Butter confuses me. I mean why, would anyone in their right mind want to spread fat all over their food? Sick.

If You Haven’t Been to Savoy Pittsburgh, What Are You Waiting On?

11 Nov

I decided to take a break from eating healthy tonight and try out Savoy with my boyfriend. We bought a Groupon for this new restaurant awhile back and decided to finally use it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but all I can say is wow!

The restaurant is absolutely beautiful. It’s designed in a way that makes you feel comfortable and never want to leave. Everything from the white leather chairs, to the spotlights subtly changing the color of the walls make it beautifully unique. The staff is also so friendly and welcoming. They make you feel right at home.

Now, onto the food. First lets start with the bread basket, as even this is worth mentioning. There were four or five different types of bread, that were all amazing. We especially loved one that was cheesy and another that had tiny bits of olives in it. Now onto the appetizer. We had the Mediterranean Platter and it was basically every food fantasy I’ve ever had, combined together. It was also huge! Mediterranean food is my favorite, and this is by far the best appetizer of its kind that I’ve ever had. It was filled with hummus, pita chips, olives (and lots of them!), feta cheese and lots of veggies.  Mmm. Finally, our main courses were also completely fabulous. I had the Angel Hair Pasta with shrimp and my boyfriend had the Pork Three Ways. Both incredible.

Although we initially went to Savoy because we had a Groupon, we will definitely be back without one. This is definitely one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in Pittsburgh.
Savoy Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Eating Healthy at Chain Restaurants

31 Oct

Anyone who dines at chain restaurants knows that eating healthy at these establishments can be a challenge. Seemingly healthy menu items are often fat bombs in disguise. Thankfully the amount of restaurants publishing the nutritional information of their menu items is increasing, making it easier to practice eating healthy.

Dine at the chain restaurants below guilt-free with these tips for eating healthy:

The Olive Garden

Everyone loves the Olive Garden. It may not actually be Italy, but a  lot of us dumb Americans are certainly fooled by it. One of my favorite things  about this restaurant is the salad and breadsticks that come before dinner.  That was until I realized that one serving of their seemingly innocent salad  packs 26 grams of fat and 360 calories! Thankfully it’s very easy to  slim it down by to a mere 3.5 grams of fat and 120 calories by simply skipping  the dressing. Or, take the even safer route and choose minestrone soup for just 1 gram of fat and 100 calories.

How to Eat Healthy:

Venetian Apricot Chicken

Calories: 290

Fat: 2.5 grams

*On a side note, go easy on the breadsticks. Each of those delicious
wonders will cost you 2.5 grams of fat and 250 calories!

First Watch

First Watch is a tricky one. Something about it makes everyone think  that it’s a super healthy breakfast spot, but in reality it’s just a fat bomb in a pretty (and delicious) package. The restaurant does have a healthy section on the menu, but most weight conscious people would be horrified after checking out the nutrition stats on most items. For example, the “Lean Machine” has 25 grams of fat before adding in the sides that accompany them. Sides such as the muffin of the day can add as much 26 grams of fat and 480 calories to your “healthy” breakfast. Add that together with the main dish and any other sides and you’ve already consumed the amount of fat and calories you’re supposed to eat for the entire day.

How to Eat Healthy:

Tri-Athlete Omelet (with sides of an english muffin and fresh fruit)


Calories: 109

Fat: 0 grams

English muffin:

Calories: 110

Fat: 1 gram

Fresh Fruit:

Calories: 206

Fat: 2 grams

Grand Total:

Calories: 425

Fat: 3 grams

P.F. Chang’s

You may have to look twice at the P.F. Chang’s nutritional information in order to really understand it. Instead of giving the nutrition stats for the entire meal that they dish up, they break it up into serving sizes to make it appear less alarming. But no, they don’t break it up into serving sizes on your plate. For example, the “Ginger Chicken with Broccoli” looks innocent enough with 273
calories and 11 grams of fat… per serving
. Multiply that by the three servings they restaurant has broken it into and you’re actually eating 819 calories and 33 grams of fat. Yikes!

It's not easy, but eating healthy is possible at P.F. Changs

How to Eat Healthy:

Buddha’s Feast (Steamed)

Calories: 55 (x two servings) = 110

Fat: 0 grams

Buddha’s Feast (Stir-Fried)

Calories: 220 (x two servings) = 440

Fat: 6 grams (x two servings) = 12 grams

California Pizza Kitchen

It’s no secret that California Pizza Kitchen serves good food, but is it really worth busting a button on your pants for? It’s not easy to find anything healthy on the menu of this restaurant. Most of the menu items including pizzas, tacos, sandwiches, and salads boast more than 1,000 calories per entrée. Yikes!

How to Eat Healthy:

Grilled Vegetable Salad, substituting Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing for their homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

Grilled Vegetable Salad Calories (without meat): 597 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/ 219* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

Fat (only saturated fat is given):  6 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/ 0* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

Grilled Vegetable Salad Calories (w/grilled chicken breast): 834 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/456* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

Fat (only saturated fat is given): 7 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/ 1* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

Grilled Vegetable Salad Calories (w/grilled chicken breast): 693 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/
315* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

Fat (only saturated fat is given): 6 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/ 0* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

Grilled Vegetable Salad Calories (w/sautéed salmon): 826 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/ 448* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

Fat (only saturated fat is given): 9 (w/CPK homemade Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing)/ 3* (w/ Fat-Free Vinaigrette dressing)

*Based upon approximate nutritional information for Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing.

Outback Steakhouse

Choose carefully when deciding what to order at the Outback Steakhouse. One wrong turn, such as ordering the Bloomin’ Onion appetizer, can cost you nearly 2,000 calories and a whopping 160 grams of fat. Yowza! The restaurant does offer a nice little selection of healthy 500 calorie and under options, that won’t leave you with a fat hangover the next day.

How to Eat Healthy:

Chicken on the Barbie with Seasonal Vegetables

Calories: 401

Fat: 7 grams

6 oz Sirloin With Broccoli No Butter And Tangy Tomato Salad No Croutons

Calories: 403

Fat: 11 grams

2 Lobster Tails With Tangy Tomato Salad No Croutons And Broccoli No

Calories: 414

Fat: 8 grams

Simply Grilled Tilapia With Steamed Veggies

Calories: 323

Fat: 8 grams

Simply Grilled 8 oz Mahi with Rice Garnish And Steamed Veggies

Calories: 388

Fat: 12 grams

Grilled Chicken Sandwich With Broccoli No Butter

Calories: 441

Fat: 12 grams

Bridal Showers are Boring – Give Yours a Makeover

12 Aug

You better hope for spiked punch if you want to have fun at a bridal shower.

I don’t know many people who don’t dread going to bridal showers. Even most of my married friends found their own bridal shower to be a bit dull and uncomfortable. The reason for this is that while the rest of the world has evolved since the 1950’s, for some reason bridal showers have not.

In another lifetime I don’t doubt that women did enjoy getting dressed up, exchanging recipes, playing stupid games, and winning prizes such as dish towels and potpourri. However, that era has past. It’s now up to us to give bridal showers a much needed makeover.

Bridal Shower Themes

Deciding on a bridal shower theme allows you to neatly pull all of the million other little details together. For example, if your theme is candy, such as with Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan’s bridal shower, you can give guest ring pops as favors, use bowls filled with candy as centerpieces, and serve candy inspired cocktails.

Bridal shower themes allow you make the decorations, activities and food flow together into a classy event, instead of a hot mess.

Get Rid of the Bridal Shower Games

No one likes bridal shower games. They’re stupid, cheesy, and usually result in a good half hour of your life that you’ll never get back. Instead of a failed attempt to entertain your guests with dumb games, create an activity that’s actually fun and cute.

Every bridal shower budget is different, and that’s okay. You can come up with a pricey winning activity if this is a big budget affair,but it’s also easy to find some good, cheap entertainment.

Bridal Shower Activity Ideas:

  • Cupcake decorating contest. Have each guest decorate a cupcake or a cookie with an assortment of toppings. Make the bride be the judge. Give the creator of her top choice(s) a box of chocolate or a bottle of wine.
  • Cocktail Seminar. Hire a bartender, or bribe a friend that makes good drinks, to give the ladies a couple of cocktail making lessons.
    Allow everyone to have a sample of each creation, a small one of course. No one wants to see Aunt Sally getting sloppy.
  • Spa Day. If you have a big budget and can afford to host the bridal shower at an actual spa, then absolutely do so. Otherwise, hire a
    couple of manicurists from a local beauty school (cheap labor) to come and do the guests’ nails. Instead of spending money on a ton of favors and prizes that guests will never use, give them the gift of great nails.
  • Cooking Demonstration. Hire a chef, culinary student; someone that knows their way around the kitchen — whatever fits your budget, to show the ladies how to cook some kind of fabulous dish. Unless you plan to rent out a restaurant kitchen, your guests will just be watching and not participating, but regardless they can still learn a few points by observation.
  • Invite the Men. There’s no reason why men can’t accompany women to bridal showers. After all, the groom benefits from the gifts
    given to the couple just as much as the bride does. Turn the bridal shower into a low-key cookout, and let the groom help open some of those gifts!
  • No Activity. Whether you’re trying to keep the shower short and sweet, or have a really tight budget, it’s more than okay to just have
    no activity. This has to be better than bridal bingo.

Bridal Shower Food Ideas:

If you’re holding the bridal shower at a restaurant, then you have it made. Your guests will be served a lovely lunch that you don’t have to prepare, serve, or clean up after. While this is ideal, it is not necessarily an affordable option for most people.

Otherwise, consider not holding your bridal shower during lunchtime for these reasons:

  • Makes the bridal shower drag on, and on and on…
  • Unnecessary added expense. No one expects you to serve them a full meal at a bridal shower. Save that money and put it towards giving guests a nice dinner at the reception.
  • Lots of extra work. Preparing a full meal, serving it, cleaning it up take a lot of work. Save yourself the effort and just serve appetizers or desserts.
  • Lack of quality. If you’re trying to prepare an affordable meal for a moderately large bridal shower guest list, you’re probably going to have to cut corners to make it affordable. Why make the event less classy when you don’t have to?

Taking Children With Behavior Problems to Adult Restaurants Is a Big No No

10 Aug

This guy tries to avoid restaurants with screaming children too.

One of the most annoying examples of a child with behavior problems and a parent who’s in denial, or just plain doesn’t care, occurs at restaurants. Whether you have children or not, no one wants to go out to a restaurant and listen to someone else’s kid scream the entire time.

Just this past weekend my boyfriend and I went out to dinner at a chain restaurant, one that places an emphasis on adult things like happy
hour specials and a large cocktail menu. I had the pleasure of sitting directly in front of a young child who seemed to genuinely enjoy hearing himself scream. There appeared to be nothing wrong with this kid, he was just screaming because he was kind of an a*#hole. Although we were sitting at a tiny little two person table, at times I had trouble hearing my boyfriend talk over this shrieking demon of a child.

The real offender in this situation was not the devil child, but the devil child’s parents. Sure, maybe they’re immue to their child’s shrieking, but they need to understand that the rest of the restaurant is not. Nor should they be. Maybe the kid has just as little interest in spending his evening in an adult restaurant, as the rest of the patrons have in listening to him squak. He wants to go to Chuckie Cheese, or some equally enticing child wonderland where he can run around screaming like a little barbarian. This is understandable. Some kids are well-behaved adults at heart, others are not. If you’re a parent, you know which category your child fits into.

Therefore parents, if you know that your child has behavior problems, don’t take him out to an adult restaurant. Get a babysitter, order in, or put a muzzle on your kid; but don’t let him ruin what would otherwise be a perfectly nice dinner for the complete strangers in the room with you.

Read this fantastic story, Monroeville Restaurant Bans Kids Under Age 6,” in the Pine-Richland Patch from a mother who really gets it.