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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Places in the OC to start the New Year off right!

So every year most of us start out with the same good intentions of getting off that extra holiday weight..but then in a few weeks (or days!) we go back to our normal eating routine. I thought I'd help this year by helping you mix up the normal restaurant rotation with a new place that hopefully helps you stay on track by offering some tasty yet healthy options.

Here's a few of my favorite places in the OC that are not only healthy but yummy!

1. Rutebegorz w locations in Fullerton, Orange and Tustin: Ruta's (as it's called by the regulars) has been around since 1970 and has the following to show it! Although their dishes are not all necessarily 'low-cal' they offer many vegetarian dishes and only serve lean proteins such as chicken breast, tuna and turkey. Sorry steak lovers but you won't find that bone in ribeye or any other red meat here. ;) They also make some amazing soups (cockie leeky is my fav!) and also make their own fresh low fat salad dressings. Ruta's is always a good option for anyone looking to eat fresh healthy homemade food! Be warned though..the menu is huge! You can peruse it before you go here: Ruta's Menu

2.  Seabirds in Costa Mesa : so yes, Seabirds is a vegan restaurant BUT rest assured that you meat eaters won't regret checking them out. I first tried their food back when Seabirds was a food truck, and fell in love w their beer battered avocado tacos. Now that they're a card carrying brick and mortar, the menu has expanded w a vast menu of delish dishes. The only sort of downside is they offer a seasonal menu which assures that the ingredients are as fresh as they can be but it's a bummer when you fall in love with a dish and it's no longer least presumably, til it's in season again. Even so, if you're trying to be healthy and looking for some creative dishes, Seabirds is a definite must-try. Seabirds Menu

3. Pita Jungle in Newport Beach:  So a place that touts it's motto as 'The Art of Eating Healthy' has a lot to live up to, and PJ hasn't failed me yet.  They offer a large menu w both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fish and chicken options, and most importantly they have a large menu w many very creative dishes. Some of my favorites include the cilantro jalapeno hummus, the mahi mahi w pita chips, and the tastes sinful but it's not chicken tikka masala. They also offer some tasty cocktails and a great Happy Hour from 3-6 P.M. Pita Jungle Menu

4. Seasons 52 in Costa Mesa at South Coast Plaza: Seasons is probably the most recognizable on my list as a local healthy food restaurant. For those who don't know, Seasons 52 specializes in cooking healthy gourmet dishes that are all less than 475 calories. They're notorious for not allowing a stick of butter in the kitchen. ;)  I have to say the first time I ate there I was a tad bit skeptical but it's become one of my favorite places for healthy eating. They have a large menu that includes a seasonally changing section with a variety of dishes.  They also specialize in these wonderful gourmet flat-breads with my personal favorite being the steak and blue cheese one. The flat-breads are featured in their not-so-well-known $15 'flights and flat-breads' Happy Hour special offered until 6:30 PM daily. They also offer sinful 3 bite desserts which are the perfect end to a light healthy dinner. Seasons 52 Menu

5. True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach: TFK is another well known healthy eating establishment but IMHO what sets them a little apart is that they focus on the ingredients instead of the calories. They make an attempt to use the most healthful foods and incorporate them into their dishes in tasty ways that make you not only way to eat them, but crave them!  You'll find unique ingredients in your dishes such as kelp, tempeh and flax seeds, etc. They also offer some amazing cocktails AND tasty mocktails loaded w good-for-you ingredients. TFK Menu

6. Nirvana Grille in Laguna Beach and Mission Viejo: They offer a gluten-free menu AND a vegan menu in addition to a regular menu that focuses on seasonal freshness and includes some wonderful salads loaded w fresh veggies. Salads can be increased to entree size for an additional $5. Menus here: Dinner Menu  Gluten-Free Menu  Vegan Menu

Brio Tuscan Grill in Irvine: okay, okay so yes, Italian isn't exactly light 'diet' fare BUT did you know that Brio has a 'light menu' w 10 salads and entrees under 550 calories?! Yep! It's worth checking out if you're craving those Italian flavors but don't want the calories that come with normal Italian food. Brio's Light Menu

So yes, I know there are many more healthy options in OC and feel free to share your hidden or not-so-hidden places! The above are just my favs when I'm trying to keep it in check.

Happy healthy eating OC!