Fresh Start is a lifestyle, so we understand that cutting out takeaways and treat meals altogether simply isn’t possible, nor necessary! While it’s great to be healthy almost all the time, sometimes a little indulgence is needed — think of it as nutrition for the mindset!
There’s always ways to ‘make healthy’ of any situation, so here’s some of our tips and tricks for navigating the grey area that is takeaways.
1. Craving something? Try cook it yourself!
If there’s a food you’re craving, be it pizza, burgers or a sweet dessert, why not give making it at home a go. This way, you’ll know exactly what’s going into the dish, and no doubt it will have less salt, sugar, additives and saturated fats than it’s purchased counterpart. Plus making these dishes at home, you’re far more likely to throw in an extra veg or two, and the flavour and satisfaction of making this yourself will be all the more delicious.
2. Rather not cook?
If it’s the cooking part however, that’s pointing you in the direction of takeaways or eating out, then there’s still plenty of nutrition to be found on the menu! We’ve listed a few of the healthier options on classic takeaway menu’s to help you navigate the healthiest Here’s some of our favourite recipes, or to make your treat meal at home, and the best options to choose when eating out:
Thai food is one of the easier takeaway options to make healthier, both at home and from a shop. We love how many veggies this cuisine packs into its dishes too.
The things to watch out for in Thai dishes are the sugary, high sodium stir-fry sauces, and the high levels of saturated fat in coconut-based curries or deep-fried entrees.
At home, our Thai Prawn Salad is so healthy it will fit into your Fresh Start lifestyle seamlessly. If you’re short on time or energy to cook at home, the Thai takeaway options we suggest are tom yum soup, fresh spring rolls (not the deep-fried kind!), larb or papaya salads and stir-fries with lighter sauces, such as garlic and pepper, or fresh ginger. When ordering a stir-fry, you can also ask for rice on the side and extra veggies, and don’t go too hard on the cashew or peanuts!
Japanese is one of our all-time favourites to get takeaway. Like Thai, it’s one of the easier takeaways to fit into your Fresh Start plan.
If it’s a sushi bar for lunch, miso soup, sashimi, seaweed salad, edamame beans or 3–4 pieces of sushi are all super healthy options. If opting for sushi, try to have brown rice sushi if possible, and simply watch your portion size, a few pieces of sushi is great, but excess can mean a reasonable amount of refined carbs. If it’s Japanese restaurant or takeaway, tuna or salmon salads, tofu dishes and teriyaki chicken with a small portion of rice are all tasty and healthy options. Remember you can always ask for more veggies and less rice too!
At home, try this Brown Rice Veggie Bowl for a heathy donburi-style dinner, or keep some miso paste on hand for making a mid-afternoon pick-me-up miso soup — delicious and nutritious.
Indian cuisine uses more than generous amounts of cream and ghee, an Indian type of butter. The classic and creamy rogan josh, butter chicken and korma curries are certainly on the higher end of the calorie spectrum, as are the deep-fried appetizers such as samosas, pakoras or bhajis, so best to avoid these if you can. Though potatoes are a healthy and unrefined carb, Indian cuisine are great at doubling up carbs, so anything with aloo in the title will contain potatoes, an FYI if you’re ordering rice as well.
Some lighter options on an Indian menu include tandoori skewers, the vindaloo curry (though one of the hotter ones!), jalfrezi or madras curries. As a general rule of thumb, the clearer style curry sauces will be lighter in calories. Opting for a lentil dhal will make it easier not to miss the rice, and you’ll still be getting plenty of low GI carbohydrates and protein and they’re super filling so likely you’ll naturally have a smaller portion size. Sabzi is vegetables, and raita is a light yoghurt based dip to take the heat off some of those non-cream based curries — both great options to include. Most places will also serve sides of salads or veg.
Cooking with Indian flavours at home is easy to tailor to a healthy and nutritious option. Opt for yoghurt based dishes, lentil dhals, marinate lean proteins in fragrant spices and add plenty of fresh cucumber and veggies as sides.
Yep, pizza is totally allowed while following Fresh Start, as we can’t stress enough that moderation is key. As it’s hard to get ‘healthy’ pizza from a shop, it’s portion size that you need to consider when indulging in pizza. A thin base pizza with minimal sauce and processed meat is best, and try to stick to 2–3 slices balanced out with some veggies or salad. And we probably don’t need to tell you, but any kind of stuffed crust is probably not the best choice!
At home, pizza can be made on a wholegrain wrap or cauliflower base to reduce the carbs — check out our cauliflower-based pizza recipe. Making pizza at home is ideal, even if you use a bought base or make your own, as you can drastically reduce the amount of saturated fat and sodium. Do this by using a modest amount of lower fat cheese (mozzarella is lower fat!), extra veggies, reduced-sugar sauces and good-quality meat.
Finally, we couldn’t forget the king of takeaways — burgers. If you’re craving a burger, nothing else will quite cut it. There are plenty of burger joints these day that will offer a lettuce bun, which is a great way to reduce refined carbs and overall calories. Otherwise, practice your mindful eating, by ordering a smaller burger and enjoying it with the bun, or asking for no, or a more modest amount of mayonnaise.
You can easily make a seriously good burger at home, with or without a bun. As long as you stick to lean mince, a thin slice of cheese and plenty of salad, you’ll get the perfect middle ground between healthy and tasty. You can also find some great seeded buns, or even use a grainy bread for a more nutritious option.
Although it’ll be impossible to calculate the calories for the certain restaurant you’re at, try to fill up on mostly veggies (not the deep fried kind), a good portion of protein (the less creamy the better) and a small portion of wholesome carbs and you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy dinner. It’s important to remember that we’re on this journey together to create healthier habits. It’s not about restrictions and what’s ‘not allowed’, it’s about learning to make the healthier options, wherever the situation — a great ability to have, and one that will no doubt stick! We hope this helps you navigate the menu a little more!
For more recipes, check out these favourites of Nadia’s:
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