Health nut: how to eat healthy at restaurants

(Photo by Cramer Photo)

Health nut
Eating well is tricky, and if you dine out regularly, it’s easy to pack on pounds. Luckily, many Charlottesville restaurants take our health to heart and offer lower-cal, high flavor food that’s so good you won’t even know you’re eating right.—Eric Angevine

Fresh, fast, and simple is the tune at Song Song Zhou & Bing Zhou (pronounced “joe”) is a hearty, stick-to-your ribs porridge claiming health benefits for the eyes, lungs, kidneys, and digestive tract. Choose between sweet 10-grain or savory celery, plus sides like woodear mushrooms with vinegar. Nothing’s over $2.50, so your wallet will leave full, too.

Fish is crucial to any healthy diet. The seared mahi mahi at La Cocina del Sol gets a tropical treatment with a topping of pineapple salsa and a side of fragrant coconut rice and steamed broccoli. If you like it raw, Tokyo Rose offers the Three Musketeers—three pieces each of tuna, salmon, and yellowtail sushi for Omega-3s times three!

Keep things lean at Fellini’s #9 (pictured) with the sautéed portobello mushroom caps tossed with wilted spinach and stewed tomatoes. The dish is finished with a warm fig and marsala sauce that you’ll want to mop up with the olive-oil baked focaccia.

Blogger Kath Younger practices what she preaches. Catch her in person at her McIntire Plaza bakery, Great Harvest Bread Company, or online at (Photo by Cramer Photo)

How to eat real food
Whether you’re a New Year resolution-er embarking on a healthy eating plan or a conscious eater looking for new inspiration, these tips from Kath Younger—registered dietitian, Great Harvest Bread Company owner, and real food blogger (—will give you food for thought.

Improve quality over limiting quantity.
“You don’t need to eat tiny portions or cut out a bunch of foods. Rather, choose from real food that comes from an animal or a plant or with an ingredient list with items you recognize and can pronounce.”

Use the weekend to prep for the week ahead.
“The biggest obstacle to healthy eating is not having healthy food in your house. When you come home starving, you’re less likely to make good decisions. So, go to the store on Sunday, stay in the produce section longer than anywhere else, and then come home and chop veggies, soak beans, hard boil eggs, make oatmeal, and make hummus.”

Variety is the key.
“I don’t believe in cutting out any food groups unless you have a clinical reason to do so. I try to eat plain yogurt and oats (a half cup has as much protein as an egg) every day in some form. For lunch, salads are easiest because you build your meal in a bowl—top pre-washed greens and pre-chopped veggies with a protein like beans, tuna, or sardines and have it with soup (Great Harvest carries Revolutionary Soup now) or a slice of bread like our whole grain-packed Cville Crunch. For dinner, I try to have one meat-based meal, one fish-based, one bean-based, and one veggie-based each week with lots of leafy greens.”

Eat and exercise intuitively to make it sustainable.
“I believe 80 to 90 percent of weight and health maintenance is a healthy diet. Exercise is very important for your general well-being, but what you put into your body matters most. Practice being intuitive—eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Workout when you are in the mood and decide what type of exercise you feel like doing and fit it in when you can.”

Local winter eats
Unless you spent late summer canning and freezing local produce, you’re likely facing a dearth of variety—or buying stuff from thousands of miles away. Emily Manley from the Local Food Hub tells us what’s in season and where to find it.

“While our warehouse is certainly more sparse this time of year, we are far from empty! Many of our farmers are employing savvy techniques to extend their growing seasons,” she said. This winter, you can fill your cart with greens (swiss chard, kale, collards, cabbage, and spring mix), root vegetables, winter squash, mushrooms, hydroponic tomatoes, and apples at stores like Integral Yoga, Rebecca’s, and Feast!. Or, order local dishes off the menus at Revolutionary Soup, Brookville, C&O, Zinc, and Blue Mountain Brewery.

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