Two days a week, I work at a part-time job in Washington, DC, right off the National Mall. Typically I bring my lunch to work but some days, like today, I don’t. On those days I have to eat lunch out, and usually settle for some unhealthy and unsatisfying option.
It’s a quandary, eating out. I generally try to prepare my own food as much as possible – it’s really true that to both lose weight and improve your overall health, you should cook your own food and eat at home. The quality of restaurant ingredients and their preparation are a big unknown. So much gets added to the food when you eat out, chemicals, preservatives, sodium – and the portions are large enough to feed a small army rather than one person. It’s also much more cost-effective, so if you are on a tight food budget, eating at home more often than not is the way to go.
On the other hand, eating at home can get boring and repetitive, even when you mix up the menu. It can just be more fun to eat out, and sample different foods and cuisines. It’s exciting to get treated to a good meal without having to do the planning, preparation, cooking and cleaning up. The social setting of a restaurant is also invigorating. Eating out is something I really enjoy, and I see no reason to deprive myself of that pleasure. The key, when we do eat out, is to make sound choices.
DC, like a lot of other large cities, has exploded the past few years with the food truck craze. On any given day, about 20 different mobile eateries are parked right in front of the building where I work, offering Mexican, Middle Eastern, Greek, Vietnamese, Peruvian, Puerto Rican, and Italian cuisines, as well as pizza, subs, crepes, barbecue, soul food, sushi, cupcakes, homemade ice cream, lobster rolls, and the list goes on. For the gastronomically adventurous, it’s a magnificent smorgasbord of options.
Today I was happy to see that a vegan truck was parked in front of my building. The truck is part of a vegan restaurant that I hadn’t yet tried because its Northwest DC location is a bit of a hike for me to get to from my house in Virginia. I made that truck my lunch destination for today.
While there is (so far) no such thing as a Fertile Food Truck, or a Fertile Food Restaurant, you can usually find options on a restaurant menu that are fertility friendly.
I ordered a deliciously prepared black bean burger and a side of garlic kale. Both beans and leafy green vegetables top the fertility superfood list.
Beans are a great source of protein, fiber, and iron. Beans are also essential for boosting follicle quality. Follicles are the nutrient sacs that house women’s eggs as they are growing and maturing. Studies have also shown that replacing some of the animal protein that is so prevalent in the American diet with plant-based protein such as beans reduces the risk of ovulatory infertility (infertility caused by irregular ovulation, and the leading type of infertility in women) by more than 50%!
Leafy green vegetables such as kale are rich in folate, which is a B-complex vitamin that helps reduce neural tube and other birth defects, and, for people who are not trying to conceive, blood diseases and even cancers. Doctors stress the importance for pregnant, trying to conceive, and lactating women of getting sufficient folic acid, and prenatal vitamins are fortified with this important vitamin. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, and while I don’t discount the importance of the vitamin, I believe it’s important to get as many of our necessary nutrients as we can naturally through our food rather than through supplementation.
Leafy green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach and collard greens are all top sources of folate (beans, incidentally, are another great source). One way to remember that leafy greens are good for folate is through the word “foliage.” Both foliage and folate share the same root, the Latin word folium, which means “leaf.”
The kale from the food truck was out of this world. I need to figure out how the restaurant prepared it because it was to die for! It was cut super thin, and was cooked just right. The kale still had a lot of body, texture and crunch. The garlic dressing on it was a perfect complement. I’m on a mission to replicate this at home! That’s another great reason to eat out every so often, you get some great ideas for things to try at home.
It was a good feeling to have a healthy AND satisfying lunch out rather than settling for something mediocre and bad for me. I didn’t enjoy the small eternity I waited in line to order my food, but I am really happy that the line was long, because it means that people are becoming more concerned about their health and they want to have healthy options. It also means that the truck is doing good business and won’t shut down!