1/7/15

Enjoy eating out!


Yesterday (Tuesday) was our first time eating dinner at Roost in Greenville. 
I had an outstanding (very spicy) vegetarian entree that made me yum out loud!

Fall Harvest Vegetable Bowl - made with seasonal veggies tossed in a red coconut curry with fragrant basmati rice. I had the option to add a protein so I choose tofu (it's not too often that I get to pick a plant strong protein like tofu on a menu!).
I finished half of this meal and saved the rest for the next day.

Karel got a cranberry apple stuffed chicken entree (as well as our athlete Jim who was visiting us) which was on top a roasted beet risotto brie cream.
Karel had a Pilsner beer but it was too light so he switched (or round 2) was a local IPA. 

I realize that eating out can be a calorie and sodium loaded affair with heavy portions that can often make you feel, well a bit stuffed after eating (and maybe the next 12 hours too). 

So why in the heck would I advocate eating out and even put the word "enjoy" in the same sentence as eating out? 

Karel and I have found ourselves eating out a bit more than normal since moving to Greenville but with over 100 restaurants downtown (many are locally owned or farm-to-table), it's hard to resist the local eatery's especially when our friends visit. 
Since eating out for us is not a habit but instead, reserved to special occasions or when friends visit, in all honesty, it doesn't happen all that often. 
So to say we are eating out a lot more than normal, that should be taken with a grain of salt.
We "normally" dine-out less than 10 times per year, locally (any more is just when we travel) and almost 99% of the time is dinner for special events.
We don't eat out just because it is the weekend, because we are too tired to cook or because we are too busy. As much as we love food, we aren't foodies who love eating at restaurants, just-because it's a restaurant.
When we eat out, we are giving up the opportunity for us to prepare foods that fuel our body, in the composition and portion that we feel will work best for our health and fitness goals. We don't have to wait for a table, leave a tip, wait for food or pay for a meal (as oppose to paying for ingredients from the grocery/farmers market). 

In my opinion, I much prefer eating at home because I love to cook. Karel feels the same way too as we both enjoy home-cooked meals.
We like to be the chefs for our bodies.  

So if I am going to eat out, I want to love the experience, the service, the food and most of all, how the food makes me feel during and after the meal.

Here are some things I enjoy about eating out: 

1) The flavors - I'm no trained chef so my creativity in the kitchen is simply based on my learned culinary skills. I love it when I have a bite of something for the first time and it's a flavor explosion in my mouth. I read a menu option and it sounds delicious but I have no idea what it will taste like when it reaches my mouth. I just love the experience of tasting new flavors. 

2) The presentation - It's no surprise that I love to take pictures of my food/meals. I love to capture the meal before it meets my mouth. When eating out, I have no idea how a meal will taste yet I take a picture of it before I even have the opportunity to yum over the first bite. There's something to be said about a beautiful food presentation. 

3) Inspiration - Karel once told me that it is rude to tell someone that a home-cooked meal tastes like restaurant quality. Of course, I think he was speaking about someone who lives outside of the US (perhaps in Europe where he grew up with 98% home-cooking for all of his life while living in Czech). When I eat out, I love trying something that I can attempt to re-create at home. Having a trained chef inspire me is exactly what I seek when eating out. There's no need to order a plain salad when I can eat/make that anytime. Instead, I order something that sounds amazing but challenges me to find a way to prepare it at home (I can't wait to try out the Roost beet risotto!) 

Certainly, I have ordered a few meals in my time that have not given me memorable experiences. There are times when the flavors do not meet my expectations, the presentation lets me down and I am not inspired.

Sometimes the menu options (or restaurant choices) are not vegetarian-friendly and sometimes I am forced to play it safe (or boring) due to the eating circumstances (work trip, event, etc.)

But if it's up to me/us, if we are going to eat out, we want to buy something that leaves a positive impression on our mind as well as in our tummies. 

No need to rush out and create a habit of eating out but if you can make eating at home a priority, you have the wonderful opportunity to make your next eating out experience one to remember (and enjoy)!