So it’s called a “challenge” for a reason, right???
We’ve talked about how preparation in the kitchen will make it much easier to ensure you follow the rules at home and work, but what about when those annoying times when regular life rears its ugly head and you actually have to go out and have a communal meal and be social and not be hovered over your meat-and-veg-and-meat (-and-veg) awesomeness that you’ve prepared just for yourself? Well, not surprisingly, the secret to success is once again planning!
First, research! If you know where you’re going (and I hope you do – surprise and paleo aren’t a successful combination), look up the restaurant’s website and check out their menu. This will help you see what some of your potential options may be (and more likely eliminate at least 90% of the menu from consideration). If you don’t see anything that will work, try either asking your friends to consider another restaurant or skipping this night out. No matter how hard you try, you’re probably not going to find an option at that burrito joint.
Secondly, communicate! Call ahead to the restaurant and explain to them what your dietary restrictions are and ask them if they have anything that will work for you. If it’s a nice restaurant, the chef may even make something special for you. Creative professionals often thrive on this type of challenge – they want to make sure you are a satisfied customer and will be back. If you don’t have time to call ahead, talk to your server. Be VERY POLITE but firm and exact on what you don’t eat. If you did your research, this might just be you confirming what the steak or chicken in that entree salad is cooked in. Is it marinated in a soy-based sauce? Drenched in butter? If so, try asking if they can cook it in olive oil or another acceptable fat for you. Again, be polite. And make sure to tip well if your server comes through for you!
Lastly, be thorough. Don’t forget to ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side instead of just going with the default creamy vinaigrette. As good as it sounds, that bacon-wrapped asparagus on the side won’t fly with the challenge. If you spy another compliant side that accompanies a different dish, ask if you can have that instead. Sure, it might cost extra, but if you are going paleo for economic reasons then you might want to reconsider things anyway!
Oh, and one more thing – don’t even look at the dessert menu. Seriously. Just don’t. Nothing good can come of it.