Eating to Live on the Outside: Fridays

This blog is all about the wonders of incredibly healthy food. When you eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds account for the majority of your diet, there are marvelous health benefits.

But what do you do when someone invites you to dinner in a restaurant? After all, we live in the real world. What to order?

Most restaurants aren't exactly Fuhrman-friendly. Some are better than others, but you'd be hard-pressed to find Squash Fantasia or Vindaloo Vegetables on most menus. So the question still remains: When you're out with friends, what do you eat?

There are lots of popular eateries out there. In the weeks to come, just for fun, we're going to look at the menus of many of them, and try to figure out some choices. Again, this is Gerry speaking, I'm not a doctor, and these are not medical recommendations. But I am someone who does his best to follow the Eat to Live recommendations, and I know that I am not the only one to have been mystified by menus. It seems like it could be helpful to all of us to muddle through some menus and see what we can come up with.

Today, our task is to imagine we're slipping into a booth at T.G.I. Friday's.

The Friday's menu is filled with good looking dishes, but most of them aren't going to compute with Eat to Live. With every dish you're probably going to have to make some concessions, but don't fret, even Dr. Fuhrman acknowledges that there are adjustments to be made when eating away from the home.

Using my Eat to Live knowledge, here's what I'd order:

There's a part of me that is drawn to the Zen Chicken Pot Stickers. They're not full of cheese, fried, or topped with bacon, which in this lineup counts as health food. Other options: pray the Soup of the Day is tomato, bean, or something that is vegetable-based or trans-fat (margarine) and butter-free. Or, of course, there's really nothing wrong with a house salad with the dressing on the side.

Me? I'd go with the Shanghai Chicken Salad, even though the Santa Fe seems healthier. The spiciness might be an issue for some people, myself included. If you skipped the appetizer or ordered a house salad, you might want to keep the chicken on this dish, if not ask the waiter for no chicken. Just remember to go easy on the Cilantro-Lime dressing.

Another good option is on the low-fat menu: "A roasted mild whitefish topped with a roma tomato-basil salsa and drizzled with balsamic glaze. Served with steamed herbed rice and broccoli." I'm suspicious of any and all "glazes," but no doubt you could get a little balsamic vinegar instead.

Pasta is not on Dr. Fuhrman's favored foods list, but as long as we're talking about compromises, you could also consider the Vegetable Grill: "Portobello mushroom marinated and grilled with asparagus, red pepper, zucchini and squash. Served with angel hair pasta, tomato-basil salsa and Balsamic Vinaigrette."

Your best bet here is not even to look at that page of the menu. Nothing on the menu is going earn you a gold star from Dr. Fuhrman.

So there you have it, that's what I'd do if I found myself in a Friday's with no fresh fruits and vegetables in sight. I'd try to pick dishes with as many vegetables as possible (especially greens), but what would you do? Email us at or leave a comment. What restaurant tips are you willing to share? We'd love to hear from you.

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
anet - May 13, 2006 10:59 PM

When I go out I sometimes take my lunchbox in the car JUST in case we stop to eat I will have my "necessities".
In it I will pack
1)a tiny liquor bottle of salad dressing to use on undressed salad
2) some nuts/seeds/berries to add to a dish that I may get that seems too plain
Then I just play it by ear.

Beth - May 19, 2006 12:59 PM

A regular for me is fajitas. I skip the tortillas (or eat just one) and also ask for extra grilled veggies instead of the rice and beans.

Norma - May 26, 2006 8:27 PM

Thanks for this article, VERY helpful. My husband travels a lot and staying on track with ETL is a real challenge.

j - August 11, 2006 11:05 AM

how many calories are in the shanghai chicken salad?

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