Real food when cooking for one, entertaining with friends, and dining out in the city

I’d like to share my culinary adventures as I predominantly follow a healthy way of eating to improve my health, body and mind. Over the past six months I’ve been eating more whole foods, which are Paleo and sugar free while moving towards a Banting life style. Over these past months I’ve encountered unique issues regarding cooking for one, entertaining for friends, and dining out in the city when you are following a healthy way of eating. The aim of this blog is to share recipes, restaurant reviews, and to provide and share tips with each other on how we can circumvent some of these challenges.

Cooking for one

It is not a lot of fun when you no longer rely on your comfort foods like that sneaky penne cabonara, right? It is hard work to cook something nutritious when you are tired and just want to eat toast with lashings of peanut butter, right? This is not in fact necessarily true.

Sure, when you are the only one in your household who is following a certain way of eating, you may lack a support network to encourage and motivate you, so it’s much easier to fall of the Bant Wagon and make excuses to yourself. This may be because there is no one else there to see you make those excuses (if you live alone), or there are those around you that will try to lure you to the dark side with tantalizing foods (if you live with others). How do we keep our menu tasty enough to keep us motivated?

There is also nobody there to support us with the cooking, so the time we spend in the kitchen can become very expensive time wise, depending on our relative time poorness or of course how much we individually enjoy being in the kitchen. You may even be expected to cook for others and then yourself. How do we keep our menu simple enough, and what time saving techniques can we employ to ensure that we have time for all the other things we have to accomplish or enjoy?

Another problem we often face when cooking for one is quantity. The recipes we follow and the quantities of foods that are sold to us often assume that we are feeding a family. While that does mean we can enjoy leftovers the next day, we don’t necessarily want tot be eating them for the rest of the week. There are also budgetary constraints for many, as cooking for yourself tends to cost a lot more per person in groceries (try as we might not to create wastage from spoiled vegetables or leftovers at the end of the week) and even the use of electricity for cooking up single servings. What tips and techniques can we use so that our budgets, groceries, and meals go further while providing variety?

Entertaining with friends

I’m sure if you have tried to maintain a healthy way of eating, or heaven forbid a fad diet, you will know that our friends can find us trying at best. Although we try to explain that it is not a “diet” that we are trying to heal our bodies and in my case inflammatory and autoimmune health issues, we are often faced by reactions like “why don’t you just cycle more?”, “how long will this last for?”, you should try “<insert> fad diet!”. To be honest I am sure we walk a fine line between living the healthy life style the way we would like to and losing all our friends!!! I once had  a friend call to ask if I wanted to go to a new restaurant, then before I could answer, said “oh i forgot you are not eating, I’ll call someone else”! (I do eat, in fact I live to eat!).

Entertaining at home is a great way to introduce friends to the way of eating you are following, and show them that wholesome food can be just as decadent as their way of eating, although you might have to turn away from the burning look of horror as they see all that butter the chicken is sitting in! In fact I believe food cooked our way is tastier because both fat and salt enhance flavor on the taste-buds, and our spices and sauces aren’t being diluted by bland starchy vegetables.

Eating at other peoples houses is a little more of a mine field. I usually call ahead to see what is on the menu, if it is not suitable I offer to bring along a substitution. Most of the time, unless it is a paella, you can pick out compliant components of the meal and simply have a smaller portion. If you are fat adapted, you can probably manage a smaller meal without succumbing to severe starvation anyway!

Dining out

Yes you become that person!!! Most restaurants do not clearly state whether foods are gluten free, let alone if they are sugar free, dairy free, low carb high fat (LCHF), or Paleo friendly. It would be great if we could change this and get more Paleo/LCHF friendly menus. Your waiter should know the components of the meal, and I usually ask if it is gluten free and sugar free and make the best judgement I can. I never feel concerned about asking to omit something or substitute another if it seems within the realms of possibility and shouldn’t be a problem for the hard working kitchen. I eat out at least three times a week, and have really enjoyed finding new items on menus that I normally wouldn’t have tried before, as well as seeking new types of restaurants. Too often I see advice on eating out “get a steak and a salad with dressing on the side”: WTF? Seriously, you are going out to enjoy a meal, not to pay for something you’d cook at home on your laziest of days. Before selecting a place to dine out, check the menu, call ahead or better yet visit a few days ahead (walking to the restaurant on your way home will even give you some exercise, or what i like to call ‘calorie credits’ for when you eventually eat there!).

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