Paleo Day 12: Eating out with Paleo Friends

Most of the friends and coworkers I talk to about my diet experiment don’t exactly understand what I’m trying to do, but they are supportive.  Because the word “diet” has taken on the perception of something you do to lose weight quickly, it can be a bit jarring to hear I’m going to “diet” for 1.5 years.  People also like to shake their head at my self-induced dietary restrictions, but always in jest.  Thankfully due to a meeting I had downtown I had the opportunity to dine with some friends that are on the Paleo bandwagon and have been for quite some time.

Once again breakfast was skipped, unfortunately.  I still need to get to the store to buy tons of vegetables for snacks as well.  I’m therefore scraping the bottom of the barrel on things besides what I buy for lunch and dinner.  I had three plums and a spoonful of almond butter as I went out the door and that was going to have to hold me over until a proper lunchtime meal.  Lunch was my first time at Chipotle since I started this experiment.  Back during my trial weeks I had concocted a “Paleo Salad Bowl” which is relatively filling and tasty.  It is essentially all of their Paleo-approved ingredients: lettuce, chicken, sauteed peppers, tomatoes, hot sauce and guacamole.  It would be much more satisfying with a cup of rice, but since I had rice just a day or two ago that wouldn’t be appropriate.

Dinner was in the early evening downtown at a place called Kafe Leopold.  They have a broad selection of items most of which are not paleo.  However I didn’t check the menu since I knew my Paleo friends had picked the place.  I never impose my dietary restriction problems on my friends, so I generally make it my responsibility to preflight the menu before we go some place.  Like the vegans of the world, often that means there is one or maybe two items that are on the menu that we can eat.  Kafe Leopold isn’t a Paleo restaurant, so it’s not like their entire menu is nothing but foods like that.  They do provide a very convenient guide to show what is gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian (and some fourth category that is escaping me right now).

On the suggestions of my friends I started with the kale salad.  I love kale, so this is a no brainer for me.  Usually I just plop a huge bunch of kale down and go with salt, pepper, some seasonings before pouring on some olive oil and vinegar.  They went much simpler than that.  First the kale was shredded so finely it looked almost like the light green seaweed garnish you get at a sushi restaurant, except it was an enormous pile of it.  The dressing was light, simple and without any seasoning besides maybe a little salt and pepper.  They used a heavy dose of olive oil which really amplified the brightness of the kale on its own.  It was even further brightened up by the lemon juice.  If a salad could be refreshing, this is a model to emulate to try to achieve that.   Even though it was a generous portion I could have eaten three of these, but as I said I love kale and I love enormous salads.

For dinner I had what they Mediterranean Sea Bass with some wilted spinach.  As you may have been reading, the food industry has been naming disgusting sounding fish with more palatable names.  So while no one wants to eat Patagonian Toothfish they will simply go out of their way to eat Chilean Sea Bass.  They are of course actually the same fish.  This fish has a similar naming thing going on, but it’s not masking unpalatable names for palatable ones.  It just has multiple names for multiple reasons.  Perhaps that’s why they have the overarching name “European Seebass” or “Mediterranean Sea Bass.”  It stood out on the menu for me because they had called the dish bronzino.  I love bronzino, so figured I’d go with it since it must be close to the fish of the same name.   Silly me of course, it was exactly the same fish.  The skin on bronzino, I mean Mediterranean Sea Bass, was of course perfectly cooked and the skin was tender enough to eat.  I can’t do the whole chewy or crunching fish skin thing, so I found it delectable then that is a good vote.  I also nibbled on some fries on my partner’s plate and tried some of the skirt steak as well.

I hadn’t eaten much during the day so I was still pretty hungry at the end of dinner.  Unfortunately the closest thing to a paleo friendly dessert they had was the sorbet.  I’m sure it violated the “no added sugars” edict, but it was packed with macerated fruit and I considered that a reasonable compromise.  I finished up the evening when I got home with a spoonful of almond butter and three plums, thus finishing off all the plums, finally.

As I start trying to ramp up my exercise starting this weekend I’m going to have to be more mindful of how I’m eating.  I can’t get away with this two meal a day thing once that kicks in, at least I don’t think so.