I love going out for steak. I can (and do) prepare steak at home, but really not that often. It’s not a cheap meat and although still packed with protein, tends to be a bit more caloric than my usual picks. And while steakhouse menus are full of caloric bombs, I actually find them one of the easiest types of restaurants to make healthy choices….and that’s what I did on Friday. My mom wanted to go out of town and do something to relax at the end of the week. I suggested The Keg. It’s a bit upscale, but the food is delicious (when I was in university and someone was coming to take me out for dinner, the Keg was always near the top of the list…it’s a great place to go when someone else is paying :P). I enjoyed a full meal and made smart choices, and left feeling satisfied, but not stuffed. I like steakhouses because there’s a lot of simple foods (ie, a plain steak or baked potato). I find that’s the best way to go when dining out – the less sauces/flavorings/ingredients that are added, the smaller the chance for extra calories. As long as you stick to the basics, not crazy topped steaks, creamy sides or fried appetizers, you’ll be fine. Here’s what I did (apologies in advance for the bad photos, it was dark in there):
1. Start with a smart salad. My mom and I both chose a “Classic Dinner,” which means it comes with salad. Instead of choosing the Caesar that was listed on the menu, I chose a house salad with the dressing on the side. I didn’t use nearly the whole container, choosing instead to dip my fork in it and using the dressing sparingly. As much as I love a good Caesar, if I’ve got a steak coming up, I don’t need to start off my meal with something so heavy.
2. Be smart about bread and appetizer choices. The Keg has AMAZING sourdough bread that comes hot with every meal. However, my mom wanted to order an appetizer (I said I could do without, but wanted to go along with whatever she wanted), so I didn’t indulge in any of the bread. We chose the grilled flatbread, which came with tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and a sweet balsamic glaze. This stuff was tasty (although I think it’d be pretty easy to re-create at home). The flavours tasted amazing together and I especially enjoyed the balsamic glaze (FYI – you can create it yourself by boiling down balsamic vinegar on the stove until it thickens). As good as it was, after one piece, I stopped myself (ok, I did go back and cut a little sliver off of another piece). Even though there were 6 pieces, and I love appetizers, just like with the salad, I didn’t need those extra calories before the steak dinner.
3. Keep it lean. Did you know filet mignon is one of the leanest cuts of steak you can order? And it’s also one of the smallest (sadly, also one of the most expensive 😦 ). It doesn’t have a lot of marbling or grizzle, but it’s extremely juicy and tender. But you may be asking, “doesn’t it often come wrapped in bacon?” Yes…but that doesn’t mean you have to eat it! Even though it’s expensive, the filet is my go-to pick if it’s on a steakhouse menu. As soon as I get my plate, I unwrap the bacon and put it to the side (ok….I always eat a bite or 2 :P). I don’t know what that creamy sauce was, but I put to the side too. You’ll notice the lack of starch on my plate. While a plain baked potato is a reasonable pick, I cut calories even further by requesting extra veggies (one pitfall – you never know how much butter/oil they’re cooked in). Those mushrooms were good, but I could tell by the plate that they were cooked in A LOT of oil, so I didn’t eat many. The veggies were somewhat oily, but not too bad, so I ate them all.
4. Choose an alternate dessert. I don’t need to tell you how much I love dessert. But smart options are usually non-existent on restaurant menus, and while I do splurge on occasion, I wanted to be smart on Friday. I enjoyed one of the small chocolate mints that came with our bill (sidenote: I really like it when restaurants still offer mints…a lot don’t anymore these days!). Then we went to the mall…where my mom and I each picked out a chocolate at Laura Secord (it’s sort of a tradition if we go shopping at a mall with a Laura Secord). I chose a maple cream (can’t say no to the maple). It’s an easy way to satisfy a dessert craving without going overboard. We also stopped at Starbucks on the way home where I enjoyed a grande light mocha frappuccino. And finally, when we got home, I had one of my favourites…Skinny Cow cookie dough sundae cup. 🙂
What a perfect evening…I enjoyed some delicious food, including things that I don’t normally eat, but made smart choices so I left the evening with no regrets. Win-win!