Have you ever taken the time to consider how much of our lives revolve around eating? We eat to celebrate or commiserate, we eat when we are bored or when we’re entertaining. Whether it is with family, friends or even when mingling with strangers, all the while we eat. We live in a culture that delights in food yet scorns the fat. How to exist?
That was our dilemma today. We had two separate Mother’s Day celebrations to attend, one a brunch at “The Broken Yolk” of Carlsbad, the other a dinner at “Casa De Bandini” a Mexican restaurant , just across the road. Two restaurant meals in the same day.
Normally, we try to prepare our meals for ourselves. This gives us control over how much salt or oil we put in a dish. At a restaurant, you might get a calorie count if you’re lucky, or a cheerful little heart next to a menu item signifying it as “lite” cuisine, but for the most part, you’re at the whim of your chef. You can opt to forget healthy eating for “just one day” but let’s be honest, how many “just one days”or “just this onces” do you give yourself in a week? When in this kind of dietary dilemma, one has to be diligent and make wise, yet tasty choices.
We started at “The Broken Yolk.” It’s a beautiful establishment with a modern minimalistic design to it. The walls are decorated with 4 square wooden frames, set corner to corner, holding no pictures. Vines of brushed aluminum coiled in the corners of the crowning. We were seated at a booth beneath a glass orb lighting fixture that looked a bit like a yolk itself, banded in shades of ivory and canary.
After scowering the menu for various healthy options (marked with that cheeky little heart) we decided to opt for the Tommy G Special. This is an open face egg white omelette, topped with green chilies, water chestnuts, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms and black olives. It comes with a side of fruit and your choice of toast, muffin or biscuit. We decided to skip the pastry, and substituted it with a few sliced tomatoes instead (as offered by our waitress.)
Removing the yolk from your eggs is an excellent way to dramatically cut out some fat and still get your protein, not to mention all the other health benefits offered by eggs. The topping of veggies is intensely flavorful without the calories that a smothering of cheese and meats would bring to the plate. Since this was the early morning meal, we could afford to go a bit more calorie heavy, because we’d have the whole day to work it off.
Channel surfing is not as athletic an activity as the name might at first lead you to believe, if you know you’re eating heavy, schedule some physical activity for yourself. Do something you enjoy, even just a stroll around the mall, you have to get your body moving. This went double for us, because we still had one more big meal to go.
That evening, we gathered at Casa De Bandini. It’s a beautiful Mexican restaurant. A sea of warm, golden, Spanish tile stretched out before us, dappled by the sunset glow of beautiful, stained-glass lanterns, and antiquated brass chandeliers which hung from the ceiling. The walls were adorned with oil paintings, sculptures and relics of historical and religious figures, typical of the Spanish mission style. The theme even carried over to the waitresses, who wore flowers in their hair, and flowing skirts as they shuffled back and forth with trays in hand. It was much like a visit to a theme park, and we felt transported back to a time long ago in California’s past.
After surveying the hefty menus, we found a page within, printed on green paper, labeled “Healthy Options.” These choices included nutritional information. I wasn’t surprised to see that the salad I had been eyeing was roughly 400 calories. Restaurant salads come gussied up with meat, cheese and smooth, creamy dressings that pack on the calories while guising the taste of lettuce. We decided instead on the Sopa Azteca, a traditional mexican vegetable soup, with chunks of avocado and tomato. The soup comes sprinkled with a bit of cheese and a dollop of sour cream, garnished with a sprig of cilantro. It has a rich, spicy flavor and the plump chunks of avocado please the tongue while providing a heartier, stew-like texture. This is a very satisfying meal, especially when you are looking to keep your calorie count down.
Sopa Azteca has 255 Calories, 13mg of cholesterol, 16g of fat, and unfortunately 1025 mg of sodium. Many times when a food has reduced calories it makes up for the change in flavor by adding salt. Soups are notorious for being high in sodium, especially those that come from a can. However, if you are not on a low sodium diet, or you have had a very low sodium intake for that day, this is a choice you should consider.
All in all, with our day of feasting done, we don’t feel like shameless gluttons. Living well is all about maintaining a balance in all things, food being just one of many.
To Your Health,
-Sharon & Sarah Marcotte