J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted March 1, 2011

Published in Food, Health, Lifestyle

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Healthy Dining in Texas...during Rodeo Week

Read More: health-promoting diet, healthy eating, ordering in restaurants, whole plants

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Even during Rodeo Week, it is possible to order a healthy meal in almost any restaurant in Texas.

Thumbnail image for Photo Newport.jpgI didn't say the healthy meal would be listed on the menu, I said that you could order one. And that's what we did yesterday in a beach restaurant that features 90% of its calories on the menu from fried seafood, big juicy burgers and French fries.

My friend Carl, who has recently joined our 4-Leaf program, was a bit leery when he first saw the menu. Now that he is striving to get over 80% of his calories each day from whole plants, he was even more doubtful when he smelled the grease from the kitchen. But when the menus arrived, I quickly scanned the extensive offerings looking for some side dishes...and there they were.

We each ordered a combination of mixed vegetables, new potatoes, andA Texas 4Leaf meal.jpg brown rice -- along with a saucer of lemons to squeeze on our veggies. Being in Texas, we had  Lone Star beers and proceeded to enjoy a delicious, healthy and filling meal -- for a mere $10 each; about half the price of the other entrees. Check out this great looking meal on the right, with the lemons right behind the Lone Star.

For your convenience, here are my six simple steps to ordering great meals in almost any restaurant except for Fast Food.

"Hicks Six" Creative Ordering

  1. First, look for some healthy side dishes on the menu.
  2. Then, scan the menu looking for clues as to what other kinds of healthy veggies they might have in the kitchen.
  3. Look at entrees carefully and make a mental note of the healthy items they are serving with them..also ask your server for ideas, maybe saying that your doctor has you on a special diet (Dr. Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Fuhrman, etc.).
  4. Once you find out what they have, you can talk to your server about portion size and meal preparation details -- like cooking with no oil or butter.
  5. When ordering pasta, make sure that at least 2/3 of the dish is veggies, not pasta...and always ask for whole grain bread, pasta or rice.*
  6. As for the "token" vegetarian entree; forget it. It is typically loaded with oil, white flour and cheese; derives very few calories from whole plants and is rarely even close to being a health-promoting 4-Leaf meal (over 80% of calories from whole plants.)

After a little practice, this creative ordering can be a lot of fun. Not only will you be enjoying healthy and delicious meals that you create yourself, you'll be saving roughly $10 every time you dine. As a single man, I save enough going out every night to pay for ALL of the groceries that I purchase at the supermarket.

*If you order a pasta primavera off almost any menu, it will typically be a huge bowl of white pasta, a few tiny vegetables here and there and covered with some combination of oil and/or cream sauce. Bottom line -- less than 10% of your calories will be from whole plants -- scoring in the "No Leaf" level on our "4-Leaf" scale.

From the great state of Texas for one more day....have a great day and be well,

J. Morris Hicks...blogging daily at