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[MSP] Dieting (gasp!) deliciously in the Twin Cities?

So, I'd like to drop a few pounds (summer's coming, summer's coming!) Sadly, I'm not going to be able to fit into my bathing suit if I sustain myself on al pastor huaraches and dim sum. So, I'm trying to make some better dietary choices for myself and have vowed to order the lowest calorie/healthiest item on every menu I encounter and see if I can lose weight, deliciously, without having to give up chowhounding. Of course, portion control and exercise are key, too, but those are for another forum. And, it helps if you make good choices along the way. I'm going to focus on eating lots of veggies and whole grains and lean proteins and avoid sloppy sauces. If there's nothing obviously lower-cal on the menu, I'll just make the best choice I can. If I have dessert, I'll share it. I don't want to starve or deprive myself, just make the best choices I can everywhere I go. Can it be done?

I'll report back here on the dishes I try and how delicious they are. If anyone else encounters healthy/low calories choices, or wants to join along on my quest, please post in this thread, too. Maybe we can end up with a nice catalog of healthy choices.

Here's a link to a recent post on a similar topic. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36334...


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  1. So far:

    Key's Cafe for breakfast: not many options here. I ordered the poached egg, whole grain (house-made) toast with butter and house-made rhubarb jelly, fruit salad. The other alternatives would have been to order oatmeal or maybe one of the veggie omelets with egg beaters.

    The highlight of the meal was the whole grain house-made toast with the rhubarb jelly. The bread is fantastic, thick and hearty, and, just a little bit of rhubarb jelly goes a long way. Next time I'd remember to ask them to hold the butter. The fruit salad was generously portioned, but most of the fruit was on the un-ripe side of ripe. I left the honeydew melon untouched, as I'm not a fan. The egg was fine, too, although, it looked a little sad and lonely at the bottom of its ramekin. What I really wanted: the loon omelet --or house-roasted turkey omelet--and a warm caramel roll slathered in butter. I would have ordered the same glorious toast, but I wouldn't have scraped off the extra butter or used the rhubarb jelly so sparingly.

    Nelson's Cheese & Deli (at Snelling and what, Como?, in St. Paul) http://www.nelsoncheese.net/boxledlun... Salad to-go & V-8 juice. Ordinary lettuce, with eggs, cheese shavings, tomatoes, and, I think, carrots. Came with a house-made breadstick and a packet of a Paul Newman dressing of your choice. Fine salad for a to go option, but nothing special. The cheese was pretty tasty (sorry, I can never remember what kind it is--parmesan, I think) and there wasn't so much of it that I thought it was going to be counter-productive. Just enough to add some taste. The breadstick was good, but, I wish it had been whole-grain to boost the fiber-content and be more filling. None of the sandwiches on the board looked like veggie sandwiches--maybe I needed to look more closely, or ask, but I probably could have done okay with having just half a roast beef or turkey sandwich, if they do halves... What I really wanted: one of the hot and tasty sandwiches, their hot hero looks pretty good. They also have a lot of those yuppie specialty sodas and potato chips--I'm a sucker for those.

    Trotter's Cafe, (on Cleveland at Marshall, St. Paul) http://www.trotters-stpaul.com/
    Very promising menu. I tried a special of the day, curry chickpea burrito, which was whole curried chick peas, lots of veggies and potatoes on a whole wheat tortilla. It came with a side of corn tortilla chips and a tangy yogurt dip. I also ordered a side salad. The side salad was fantastic, all the veggies were fresh and tender and it was lightly dressed in a nice vinaigrette. The burrito filling was fine, but I didn't think the whole wheat tortilla added much to the meal. I left most of the chips, but finished off the tangy yogurt dip. What I really wanted: a cone from Izzy's around the corner.


    15 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      HI TDQ, You know I'm right there with you trying to shed a few pounds. I specifically do Weight Watchers, which works great if you actually use the program, which I haven't really been the past few months. I did re-commit this week and have stayed on track.

      Sushi is my go to meal when I need something light and healthy. This Tuesday we hit Bagu and I got the sashimi dinner. It was alright... the tuna was a little tougher than I would have liked, although I got red snapper which I had never had raw before and it was fantastic.

      On Wednesday I was picking up Holy Land for a friend and me and I got the sauteed chicken and veggies with rice on the side. It was amazing, and 1/2 of my meal more than filled me up. The entree was chock full of vegetables. I just have to be careful with their rice though, I can eat 4 servings of rice pilaf without blinking an eye.

      We want to go somewhere new either tonight or tomorrow and I'm trying to think of Weight Watchers friendly places. I might very well go back to that thread I started a few months ago!

      1. re: katebauer

        Kate, sushi is a great option. Also, just eating half of your meal and boxing the rest to go, or, splitting portions with a friend.

        I will have to keep that in mind. I linked your thread in my post above, for easy reference. Please do let me know about any Weight Watchers friendly places you encounter. I thought about WW, but, heck, I know what I need to do--I just need to do it. And, I could spend that hour I could be at the meeting, exercising!


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Yes, if my husband was nicer about splitting portions I'd be thinner! (nah, it's my own fault, but he is quite protective of his food, especially when I've only ordered an appetizer or something as a means to cut back).

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I've been going to Nelson's about once a week for years. Nelson's has a veggie sandwich - called "The Veggie." You'll probably want it without the Guac. There's a few other lighter sandwiches as well, and they'll make a custom combo of meats/veggies if you ask. All their ingredients are listed on the board. (Or, if you don't want to stand at the counter and read the options, they're all online here: http://site.mawebcenters.com/nelsonch... )

          1. re: Danny

            Oh, gee, there it is on the menu in the bottom row of "specialty sandwiches," right next to the "dieter's special." I guess it was hard to find them on the big board "under pressure." :) I'll have to go back and try it. I forgot to mention, they have a fridge case with lots of cheeses and other goodies. I bought some smoked wild salmon and some smoked chicken. I thought those would be good sliced up and put on a salad or in some pasta.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Not good for your diet, but good Nelson's information is that they have one of the wideset selections of Root Beers in the Twin Cities. I love Root Beer, but am a bit of a snob about it. I only drink "the good stuff." Nelson's has some hard to find varieties. (The best selection, for those who care, seems to be at Pumphouse Creamery.)

              1. re: Danny

                I do care! That is very good to know. Any special preferences? Maybe I'll start a separate thread on that now so look for it.

          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            Is Trotters new? I've never been or even heard of it and it is like...er...right over there.

            Their menu looks like a decent option for a quick meal. Tempeh rueben seems like it could be good for my sauerkraut cravings.

            Other options in Saint Paul: Shish, Everest on Grand, and Khyber Pass. Easy to get well-balance meals at any one of these places.

            1. re: SLBunge

              Trotter's is not new. Isn't that amazing? But, I think we all rush past it on our way to Izzy's. I almost got that tempeh reuben, but I thought I should try the special, in case it was never available again!

              I still haven't made it to shish.

              RE: Everest on Grand--are the veggie momos good options? I love those things!


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I would imagine veggie momos are a good choice. On WW pork steamed dumpling are 1.5 points each - so a little under 100 calories. I often do a dinner of 4 steamed dumplings and steamed veggies and rice. You could hit Everest on Grand and share a plate of 6 dumplings and then some other veggie heavy dish.

            2. re: The Dairy Queen

              Hey thanks for the Trotter's recommendation. I hadn't heard of it. It's near me (and I've yet to tr Izzie's!).

              I hear ya on the Key's. Not much on the menu that's diet-friendly, although I had good luck with some kind of salad I no longer remember (dressing on the side). I'd also forgot that I'd mentally reminded myself to always ask for butter on the side at Key's. They have a bad habit of slathering it on. My husband loves it there. I'm not such a breakfast-place gal and don't really want to waste my calories on that.

              1. re: jeanmt

                Oh I have to reply to my reply (and reply about the steamed dumpling) to tell you about the greatest thing I've found. Chowhounds would appreciate it. These type of steamed dumplings and shrimp spring rolls in the freezer case at Dragon Asian Foods (is that the right name? On Minnehaha in St. Paul) and I assume at United Noodle. They cost about $2 and you nuke them for a few minutes in the package. And they're delicious. And they seem to be uber low calorie, if I can decipher the information, which appears in every language spoken, it seems.

                1. re: jeanmt

                  Any idea of the brand name? I find frozen dumplings are so hit or miss, and I don't really know which will be best - shrimp, or shrimp and scallion, or shrimp and garlic, or pork and shrimp etc. etc.

                  1. re: jeanmt

                    Pretty close on the name (of the store) - it's Dragon Star.

              2. I'll be joining you on spirit after I get back from vacation 4/9. My go-to dining out diet food has always been pho or other asian broth-based soups. Just don't eat all the noodles. Tanpopo always had a lot of good options as well. Good luck! Let us know the results.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mnitchals

                  Have a great vacation! I always wondered about pho--thank you for that. And I love Tanpopo!

                  Does anyone have any recommendations about what to choose at Little Szechuan? I have the feeling there isn't much on the menu that I would normally consider diet food, but what would my best choices be, but, I do envision a visit to LS in my near future...


                2. TDQ,

                  Some thoughts for you, centered around St. Paul (for your convenience):

                  Trotters Cafe (use willpower to avoid baked goods) EDIT: I see you already mentioned that.
                  Cafe Latte (use willpower to avoid desserts)
                  Blondie's on Snelling has some healthy soup/sandwich stuff (use willpower to avoid baked goods)
                  128 Cafe does a nice grilled vegetable entree and has some good salads (use willpower to avoid ribs)
                  A pizza from Punch (use willpower to avoid eating the whole thing) isn't all bad. Their salads are good too.

                  For a relatively healthy summer dessert treat, I frequently haul the kids from Burnsville to Grand Italian Ice (www.granditalianicecafe.com). (use willpower to avoid ordering custard). Very refreshing in the summer and great biking destination.

                  Sea Salt Eatery will open soon (they open in April). There are a number of great healthy items there (I love biking over there for marlin tacos). (use willpower to avoid ordering their Sebastian Joe's ice cream


                  If you NEED something decadent, pop into Legacy Chocolates. Dark chocolate is actually fairly guilt-free. (use willpower to avoid taking home 20 extra pieces or going two doors down to Izzy's)

                  Tacos really aren't the worst option, truth be told. If you can use willpower to only order 2 or 3 without sour cream/cheese/etc., you're really not getting that much meat, even if you order al pastor. Try some of the chicken stuff (pibil, salsa verde, etc.). El Burrito Mercado is a regular lunch stop for me. (use willpower to not get a bag of chicharrons from the bakery/deli counter)

                  Have you tried Shish Cafe by Macalester yet? (use willpower to avoid Coffee News Cafe for dessert) Good options there.

                  I don't consider a plain roast beef sandwich at Maverick's a dietary abomination. I just use the horseradish sauce very conservatively. (use willpower to not eat two)

                  Don't feel the need to avoid familiar places like Highland or Longfellow Grill altogether. Their salads are a fallback option (use willpower to avoid Elvis Burger) and pretty good.

                  Town Talk Diner is working on a new menu for the late spring. Watch for some healthy options. (use willpower to avoid adult malts)

                  If you can, get over to Natural Escape in Richfield. (6400 block of Lyndale). They'll expand your Mexican food options into healthy stuff. (use willpower to avoid adjacent donut shop)

                  Sushi was mentioned -- I'm hearing that more places are willing to substitute brown rice. This seems to be more popular on "the coasts". Maybe others can confirm this and what places do it. Personally, that's crossing my nitpicking threshold. (use willpower to avoid destroying the bank account).

                  Pop into Whole Foods, Mississippi Market, etc. and peruse their deli case. In my neck of the woods, I hit up Valley Natural Foods for grainy/healthy salads at lunch and menu planning inspiration. (use willpower to avoid cheese counter and baked goods)

                  None of this is new territory for you but hopefully it sparks up some inspiration.

                  Oh....get that bike chain cleaned and lubed and get out there! Heck, bike down and up the east end of Grand Avenue near downtown a couple times, then shamelessly plow through a Nookie Supreme Burger at the Nook! (use willpower to avoid the two burger challenge)

                  22 Replies
                  1. re: MSPD

                    What is this "will-power" of which you speak?

                    All great suggestions, thank you--and well-done on the St. Paulness of your recommendations. It's amazing what there is available if you're in the right mind-set.

                    I was thinking about a Maverick's visit--those sandwiches aren't that huge. I can't remember, though, what I can order instead of fries. I'm hoping they maybe have a little side salad...

                    I can't wait for Sea Salt Eatery to open. You know, April starts Sunday! http://www.seasalteatery.com/ Do you think they'll be open Sunday?


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      We were at the park last week, and Sea Salt was getting ready to open. The signs on the door said April 1st.

                      I really enjoy the Moslem Salad at Royal Orchid Thai in Roseville. (I'll again remind people - avoid the lunch menu at all costs.) That is pretty healthy, and really, really tasty.

                      Another option could be the bagel sandwiches at St. Paul Bagelry - although I'm really tempted to post a downhill alert. They changed hands (again!) in January, and the new owners also own the Maui Wowi smoothie franchise for Minnesota. So, the place is now "Maui Wowi Smoothies and St. Paul Bagelry" They said the bagels were identical, but I found them to be a lot bigger, and somehow not as good. So... you could try some of the healthier options there, but beware, the bagels may not be as good as they once were.

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I have been trying to lose weight to fit into my wedding dress! Also-my mother just had a heart attack, my grandmother had one at sixty, I don't want to be next in line. I actually lost 100 pounds last year-and I ate chocolate every day (just a little bit!) For me, focusing on what I'm really hungry FOR (I think our bodies know what we need-sometimes it's tomatoes from the Farmer's Market and for me sometimes it's half a kiddie cone from Izzie's!!)I really try to not eat except when I'm hungry, and I either share a meal with someone or bring back food for later. I know it's a year later, but I always want to be out and moving so much more in the Spring! I am ready to go to SeaSalt and get some fish tacos! I also have noticed how much better I eat when I am really present about what I buy-and I only eat things I really really like.

                        1. re: jenniegirl

                          Congratulations all around jennie. I've lost 25 pounds since Feb. 1 and two things I haven't (and never will) sacrifice: morning coffee and my one chocolate (sometimes two) every day.

                          1. re: MSPD

                            Yes, jennie, congrats on your engagement and weight loss. Honestly, while of course you want to feel great in your wedding dress, it is just one day out of your life. An important day, of course, because it commemorates this commitment you've made to a very special person, but I think the most important thing you can do right now is to develop healthy eating and exercise habits (which it sounds like you have perhaps already done--good for you) so that you and your new partner can enjoy a long and active life together. And while you're registering for china and cookware, etc. go to a place like REI or 2nd Wind and register for his and hers bicycles, or snow shoes, tennis rackets, free weights, an elliptical or rowing or stationary bicycle machine (depending on whether you have room and whether you think your friends and family would go in together on a bigger-ticket group gift)... Every chowhound needs a regular good exercise routine. Register for some healthy cookbooks: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/475762

                            Funny you mention Izzy's and Sea Salt--I hit both this weekend. You can get an Izzy for about a buck 35 (sorry, no Birchwood Key Lime Pie or Salted Caramel, but they did have a Birchwood Stout flavor that was interesting in small doses) I had their frozen yogurt...and I ordered the grilled marlin tacos at Sea Salt, as well as a couple of oysters on the half shell. They also offered grilled tilapia tacos and a shrimp cocktail that would have been a good option.

                            [What I really wanted--a full-sized cone and the oyster po-boy!


                            MSPD, congrats to you on your weight loss. I'm guessing your cycling plays an important role in helping you get and stay fit, no? Coffee, as long as you don't load it up with sugar and cream and as long as you're drinking plenty of water is fine to have once a day or so. I don't seem to have a daily need for chocolate. What I miss is food with a lot of flavor--like Little Szechuan. To satisfy that craving, I've had to hit up United Noodle and Shuang Hur and a couple of the other wonderful Asian markets we have in town and cook my own (refer to the Home Cooking Board March Cookbooks of the Month by Fucshia Dunlop). Bravo Bakery on Grand Ave in St. Paul does offer brown rice and has tofu stir-fries. I'm not completely convinced, though, that they don't use too more sugar and oil than I need...

                            Other places I've been recently that I don't recall having been mentioned and what I managed to find:

                            Puerta Azul (Selby, St. Paul)--grilled pork chop with house-beans
                            The Metrodome--southwest chicken wrap (you have to take out the bacon--also, it comes with a little cheese you have to overlook)
                            Common Roots Cafe (Mpls)--I like their broccoli salad
                            Los Andes (Lake Street, Mpls)--grilled flank steak was a pretty good option
                            Craftsman (Lake Street, Mpls)--usually has a nice trout on the menu and offers whole wheat pasta
                            Groveland Tap (St. Paul)--grilled steak salad, get the dressing on the side
                            Pho tau bay (Eat Street, Mpls)--the shrimp noodle dishes seem pretty light, especially since I mostly picked out the shrimp and the veggies to eat
                            Cupcake (University Ave Mpls)--they have a couple of nice looking salads, though, I ended up with the veggie wrap, which was a special of the day. You have to resist the chips they give you.
                            Loring Pasta Bar (Dinkytown, Mpls)--wasn't easy to eat here but I got away with a grilled tuna salad that was pretty light.
                            Spoonriver (Mpls) --pretty decent options--usually they have a nice salad or an omelet that suits me. Sad to say, though, I sometimes come away from Spoonriver still feeling hungry...
                            Bennett's Chophouse W 7th in St. Paul--if you get a small portion of steak and a baked potato, you can do fine here.

                            What I'm really looking forward to? Farmers Market and CSA season. Soon, right?


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Harmony Valley starts in less than a month I think. We're in for vegetables and fruit again and this year added the coffee! I'm really excited to see how that is.

                              Thanks for the rundown of healthy dishes TDQ. I should keep better track of what I eat and where -- I don't think of it as very chowish but others might.

                              Since you asked, cycling is helpful, but I actually shed the pounds to PREP for cycling season. Since the beginning of February (when I got "serious") I did over 2,000 minutes of mixed intensity cardio and threw in the usual moderate strength training. Most of the difference has been in chow though. To keep on topic, this is how it goes:

                              Breakfast: bowl of oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and brown sugar or, if I'm in a hurry, bowl of dry, high-fiber cereal in the car (Oatmeal Squares and Cracklin Oat Bran are my two current favorites). One 16 oz. coffee with powdered cream (yeah...I bastardize my daily ho-hum coffee...when I get the good stuff like Kopplin's I drink it black) and a good dose of plain ol' sugar.

                              Lunch: Salad bar at work with a serving of protein (either the meats, egg or combo). Sometimes a cup of broth based soup. Lean Cuisines (either Lemon Chicken or Butternut Squash) or the SmartOnes chicken black bean pita pockets. Sometimes a turkey burger or black bean burger on whole grain bread.

                              Dinner: Fish, lean meats, whatever. Last night was a thin crust Boboli with olive oil (from the Ferry Bldg in San Fran!), garlic, romas, fresh mozz, italian seasoning and coarse salt. Brown rice, fresh vegetables, fruit etc.

                              Snacks: Fage 0% or 2%, Boost Chocolate Energy Drinks, FiberOne bars, almonds, Yoplait Whips (these are really addicting when frozen), etc. I also drink a lot of Silk, especially the stuff with added fiber or the one with Omega-3s.

                              Once a week, I have a "free day" to eat whatever I want and this is where I stay connected to my chowhounding ways. This gives me something to look forward to when I'm gagging down a Lean Cuisine. Last week my wife and I went to the Strip Club for a nosh and desserts. Sometimes it's tacos, other times a burger at the Nook or Good Day Cafe or massive gyro. I'm kind of craving ice cream so some time this week I might head over to Izzy's and let loose. A while back, I drove across town for wings at the SuperAmerica off Post Road at the airport. They only have them at lunch, and they're frankly really disgusting but for some reason I have to have them periodically. It's like they fry 'em, dip them in melted popcorn butter then the sauce (at least that's what they taste like). Truly vile but a couple times a year, I can't resist. About once a week I have a pastry or, like the last couple of weeks a bagel with lox, cream cheese and capers at Common Grounds.

                              Nothing is off-limits at all.

                              1. re: MSPD

                                Not to highjack the thread but we got the coffee share last year from Harmony Valley and we LOVE it. It was hard buying regular coffee once the season was over.

                                1. re: maureen73

                                  No amount of discussion about anything delicious is highjacking, in my opinion. :) If it's delicious, we want to know about it--better to post it now, than not at all.

                                  Is Harmony Valley's coffee available elsewhere in the Twin Cities or do you have to belong to the CSA? (I am committed to another CSA...)


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    It looks like you can buy it at Seward Coop and the Wedge. They work with Kickapoo Coffee (also in Viroqua, WI) www.kickapoocoffee.com

                                    1. re: MSPD

                                      Neat, thank you! I shall keep an eye out for it at the Wedge.

                                      Other delicious locally-available food (but, not in a restaurant) I’ve found helpful:
                                      At Mississippi Market:
                                      ~Tofu—great for desserts (puddings and smoothies and such) and adding as an additional protein for stir-fries. I haven’t found a source for “house-made” tofu anywhere, so I typically get mine at Mississippi Market in St. Paul or at United Noodle (MGMkt). Keeps a while in your fridge, so, makes a good "pantry" item.
                                      ~Polenta in a tube—great grilled or griddled--with eggs for breakfast, or as an alternative to rice or pasta in Italian or Mexican dishes for lunch or dinner. Fast and easy. Good pantry item.
                                      ~Yogurt—Cultural revolutions. See this thread http://www.chowhound.com/topics/506067
                                      ~100% buckwheat soba noodles—fast and loaded with fiber. Good pantry item.
                                      ~Hand-harvested wild rice—I make a couple of days worth at a time and keep it in the fridge to dole out for various meals. Good pantry item.

                                      At Lunds
                                      ~Presliced fresh fruit at Lunds. Not inexpensive, but delicious, especially given what’s typically available for fresh fruit over winter.
                                      ~All kinds of local smoked salmon and trout and such. Great protein.
                                      At Midtown Global Market:
                                      ~Eggs—I always keep a half dozen hard-boiled eggs in my fridge for snacks and breakfast “on the go.” I like to buy my eggs at Farm in the Market (in Midtown Global Market) this time of year.
                                      ~Fage greek yogurt 0% or 2%. See this thread. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/506067


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        i think the best things are:

                                        the bulk section at someplace like fresh & natural or the wedge (and some rainbow foods stores). you can change up your oatmeal and replace it with bulk granola (a little bit at a time), or quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat. they all cook up in your microwave at work. also -
                                        eggs in the microwave.. it works!

                                        corn tortillas. you can wrap breakfast or lunch in them.. virtually fat free and they actually taste good.

                                        also - FF cottage cheese is one of the most versatile things around. w.honey & melon on wasa for breakfast, on a bagel w.spinach & smoked salmon for lunch. sprinkle some seasoning (mexican or lemon pepper or dill) and you've got a dip for your crackers or pretzels (and fake queso fresco in a taco)

                                        1. re: reannd

                                          Yep, Mississippi Market (or Whole Foods even) is good for quinoa, amaranth and farro. I haven't been much of a buckwheat gal--I get my buckwheat infusion via the soba noodles . Personally, I prefer all these grains stove-top or in a rice cooker than in the 'wave.

                                          I'm not a fan of store bought corn tortilllas (although I do like to buy them fresh from La Perla in Mercado Central) --but, I do like buying masa from Mississippi Market and making the tortillas myself using a recipe out of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

                                          I don't seem to be in a FF cottage cheese mode right now--except to blend it with silken tofu and nonfat dry milk in lieu of custards in dessert right now.


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Something I have discovered lately is the 'Green Smoothie' as
                                            described in 'Green for Life', a book by Victoria Boutenko.
                                            Basically you put serious greens like dinosaur kale, parsley,
                                            cilantro etc , water and some fruit like apples in the blender-it
                                            helps to have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix- and make
                                            a smoothie. They make you lose weight! Plus they fill you up
                                            and give you some great minerals and fiber. I stock up a couple
                                            times a week on the produce at the Wedge, and fill in from
                                            Fresh and Natural. I use them to counteract some of my
                                            other chowish eating habits.
                                            p.s. the fruit makes the flavor amazingly good, takes the bitter edge off
                                            of the greens.

                                            1. re: faith

                                              Do you put yogurt or dairy of any kind with this? Or just the greens, fruit and water?

                                              This sounds extraordinarily virtuous. (Although I'm kind of wondering how it tastes.)

                                              1. re: karykat

                                                No dairy. It is very virtuous and tastes pretty good, which makes
                                                it miraculous. You get kind of accustomed to the taste, and
                                                some people even say they crave them. Of course the more fruit
                                                you add the sweeter it is. The idea was kind of discovered by
                                                this woman who hated greens but researched how important they are for nutrition. So she thought maybe she could cram a lot of them in by making a smoothie out of them with just water. Of course that was horrible. But then she thought of adding some fruit and...voila! I think the Wedge juice bar may have a
                                                version of them you could try.

                      2. re: MSPD

                        By the way, is Blondie's ever open? I've tried to go by, but that's usually evenings or weekend mornings. It just seems always closed. It is usually hopping during the weekdays?


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Blondie's is a breakfast and lunch place if I recall. May be closed on Sundays as well -- I don't have the info at hand. I've always gone during weekday lunch errands.

                        2. re: MSPD

                          MSPD, thanks for the laughs!

                          Just FYI, if the Grand Italian Ice place you're referring to is the one that was in the old Ben and Jerrys space across from D'Amico, it's closed. Sorry to bear bad news, just didn't want the kids disappointed after a long trip from Burnsville - ya know?

                          1. re: diesel


                            That was a good place run by really nice people. I almost ran the kids up there last week but we opted for the new ice cream place ("Double Dip") in Burnsville.

                            I guess it's back to sorbet at Crema or fruity gelato in Apple Valley when I want a more refreshing and not-necessarily-healthier-than-ice cream-but-maybe-a-few-less-calories-and/or-fat summer treat.

                            1. re: MSPD

                              Izzy's always has one or two or three flavors of sorbet on rotation. My favorite is the grapefruit, but they don't often have it.

                              And you could get a kiddie cone for some portion control. Not that I've ever done this...


                          2. re: MSPD

                            Brown rice sushi doesn't float my boat. FYI. I had it recently & I wanted my money back.

                            1. re: MSPD

                              I drove by Grand Italian Ice a couple weeks ago and it appears to be gone. The place is up for rent. Somebody tell me they just moved....

                              Opps... I see someone already mentioned that. I was just so bummed...

                            2. This isn't exactly a "dining out" tip but could help with those dim sum cravings. I'm a Weight Watcher as well and my boyfriend and I love to boil up some of United Noodle's frozen potstickers. The pork varieties are always our favorite but the veggie variety is the lightest and still tasty. Get some of the spicy dumpling sauce to go with and you've got a pretty fantastic meal that's really low-cal.

                              I suppose you can get these anywhere now but they're the cheapest (and most plentiful in terms of variety) at Noodles.

                              As MSPD would say, use willpower to avoid the cafeteria stand's fried goodies :)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: MaggieB

                                I would say to go for meal-sized salads that can include some meat but heavy on the
                                raw veggies. Bryant Lake Bowl has one that I enjoyed recently, and they make very
                                good dressings.

                                1. re: faith

                                  Was just at Shish the other night & they are a wonderful option - many healthy and satisfing items.

                                  However, their desert case looks very similar to coffee news'

                                  MSPD has some excellent spots listed!

                                  The WF on grand also has a decent salad bar.

                                  1. re: St Paul Susie

                                    The WF on Grand--the Whole Foods? Actually, I like some of their prepackaged take-out lunches, too.


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      exactly. They have a decent salad bar - A lot of times I'll get a little container of toppings and toss it on my own (non salad bar) lettuce. Since they charge a lot for the lettuce.

                                      Convienent, healthy, good variety....

                                      Their soup is decent too.

                                      Shish is solid - check it out. Had a greek salad the other night and it was excellent.

                              2. The vegetarian pho-like soup at Quang is really good and good for you (just don't eat ALL the noodles.) Actually, many Asian soups are pretty good calorie-wise, just avoid the coconut milk.

                                Butter on Grand and 35th or 36th has some great sandwiches that are healthy and tasty. They also have some great soup, the split pea is really great and healthy.

                                Birchwood is very good also for low-fat, low-cal selection. Tasty desserts though that are hard to avoid.

                                Spokes pizza has a whole wheat pizza crust. Get it with veggies and no-cheese, but avoid the soy/nut cheese stuff, it is just as bad as real cheese. Tasty pizza.

                                Sushi as mentioned is always a go to food for the dieter. Add miso soup.

                                Another trick we use is substituting salsa for both salad dressing and toppings to baked potatoes. Most places have a tasty salsa, but nasty low cal dressings.

                                And of course, there is the Good Earth. We go there when we don't want to eat at home but are really trying to watch our weight (my husband and I are kind of tubby). While it isn't the BEST food, we know we can go in and have a couple choices of really health low-fat and low-cal options. And a beer to null the whole thing.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: churchka

                                  I am 99% sure that Spokes Pizza closed.

                                  1. re: churchka

                                    "And a beer to null the whole thing"

                                    That's my problem. Its not the food, its the wine.

                                    Salsa on salad is a great tip!

                                  2. Spring rolls are a good choice - fresh veggies and fish, don't use the sauce. Azia has good ones, but so does Kihndo and with Lunds across the street, I eat them for lunch almost every day. A little better than sushi because there is less rice calories.

                                    Same goes for sushi - which is good - but sashimi is much better because those rice calories add up fast.

                                    I did Seattle Sutton for about 15 months and lost more than 30 pounds - can't say the food it to die for, but it is fresh and decent sort of homey meals. www.sshe.com

                                    I'm pretty neurotic about calories (that chowhound Lake Street walk last week was a challenge for me) and typically only order an appetizer of fresh fish or a meal salad when I go out to eat. Completely avoid the majority of dairy fats and all fried foods and eat half portions. Don't "share" desserts - just take one bite - that's all you need. The rest of the calories are gratuitious.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: evasnitkin

                                      You're right about the "one bite" for dessert; it really can be enough.

                                      An aside -- it was a pleasure to meet you last Sunday, eva. Hope you both made it home before the rain.

                                    2. More:

                                      Cafe BonXai (University Ave in St. Paul, just west of Snelling) for lunch: My first visit to this place. They finally have a "real sign" (rather than the vinyl banner) and a small parking lot in back that you access from University. Cafe BonXai has that same orange wall/black accoustical tile ceiling look Little Szechuan has. I went for a late lunch and didn't experience any of the service problems others have mentioned. I found the service very earnest and attentive. I ordered a Diet Coke and the chicken mushroom salad, which came with mixed greens (organic, I think), grilled cherry tomatoes, cucumber spears whittled into fancy shapes, delicate slivers of carrots and red onions, shredded grilled chicken, and sauteed mushrooms. You get your choice of dressing, I ordered the house dressing, a nice vinaigrette that had a toasted flavor. Very nice little salad with terrific attention to detail. My only complaint was that the cherry tomatoes were a bit bitter (too early in the season for them), though the grilling was a nice touch. Cheap! What I would have rather had: the seafood bisque looked enticing and, wow!, the coconut and tropical fruit drinks were so calling my name. At least the re-fills of Diet Coke were free.

                                      Little Szechuan (University Ave, St. Paul http://www.littleszechuan.com/) for Dinner: wow, it was really impossible to find anything on this menu that looked diet friendly, so we ordered the fish fillet and tofu in spicy tasty broth, the green beans in special sauce, and the dan dan noodles. I finally learned what the secret ingredient is in the green beans in special sauce is: a pickled vegetable (mustard stem) called ya choy.


                                      Also, I had previously had the dan dan noodles at only the chowdown. We had so much spicy food that night that it overshadowed the spicyness of the noodles; they do indeed have a kick to them. I also noticed that there is a nice thick, broth just under the surface of the chili oil that sits atop the fish fillet and tofu in spicy broth, you just have to gently sweep aside the chili oil to get to it. What I would have rather had: exactly what I ordered--these are my favorite dishes on LS's menu. I'd really like a nice glass of white wine with my meal, but they only have red, so, I had just water, thus saving some calories. Boy does the tongue play tricks on you, giving the water a flat, metallic taste, after all of that chili. Perhaps I should have the stir fried cucumber instead of the dan dan noodles... I might be carrying a few extra pounds, but I figure my body's efforts to cool itself down from the heat of the chilis should burn at least a few calories.

                                      Groveland Tap (St. Clair Ave, St. Paul http://www.grovelandtap.com/) --we got there just in time for happy hour, which meant baskets of fries for only two dollars. Ack! I ordered a diet coke and the portabella mushroom sandwich which comes with big chunks of marinated mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and mozzarella cheese. They could amp up the health with whole wheat bread, but, it's not a bad choice for bar food. I had a side salad, with blue cheese dressing on the side. And a few fries. What I would have rather had: cajun lucy with fries and a glass of red wine.

                                      Coffee News Cafe: I ordered the tofu scramble, which comes with stir-fried tofu and spinach with goat cheese, but they were out of tofu, so they made a tempeh scramble instead. Comes with a side of seasoned potatoes (a little too oily to count as diet food, but tasty nevertheless), and whole wheat toast. I found the tempeh to be too strong a flavor and not as tender as the tofu. Stick with the tofu. What I would rather have had: the bacon and eggs with sourdough toast, as well as some of the towering cake in the pastry case, looked fantastic.


                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        TDQ - I love your "What I had/What I would have rather had" posting style. I've been on Weight Watchers since what seems like the beginning of time and struggle so with eating out. I always go in with a level head and vow to order well and then falter and get something not so great. I never go completely off the deep end but you know what I mean.

                                        So the "would rather have had" reference cracks me up because that's me in a nut shell. I'm slowly learning that food isn't everything. Though I sure do think about/read about it an awful lot :)

                                        Healthy Food note: Ate at El Paraiso Mexican restaurant last night on Nicollet. I ordered the Camarones ala Plancha - Shrimp on the Grill. Came with somewhat plain rice, beans with minimal cheese, guac and sour cream, and tortillas (they seemed more like gorditas at this place). Pretty healthy meal if you go easy on all the chips and dips (which is my total downfall). What I would rather have had: The heaping tower of nachos with the works that the guy at the table next to me was inhaling. Yum.

                                        1. re: MaggieB

                                          Also, the seafood cocktails at El Paraiso would be super healthy and the ceviches. Man, I love this place.

                                          1. re: MaggieB

                                            Maggie - I feel like you and I would get along well in real life - both been attempting WW forever, seem to hit the same restaurants, etc. I like reading your posts because it's like my own life, only yours sounds slightly more fun :)

                                            1. re: katebauer

                                              Haha! I feel so flattered! Yeah, I fear I'm doomed to be a curvy gal my whole life but at least I try to eat healthy along the way. Oh and go to the gym. The gym alone allows me to splurge a little bit :)

                                              I'll admit, I had a bad experience with ceviche once and have been reluctant to try it ever since. I gotta dive into one soon!

                                              1. re: MaggieB

                                                I went to Masa's last Cinco de Mayo-will never do that again-way too crowded! Anyway, I had pork which I didn't like, but my friend shared a little bit of her cerviche with me. I've been thinking about it for a year-I guess it's time to go get some of my own! It just tasted like freshness in a bowl.

                                        2. Thanks for your support and fabulous suggestions, everyone. I'd like to thank and comment on every single post, but I don't want the thread to get too cluttered so it stays as a nice resource:


                                          I’ve gone back to Nelson’s Cheese and Deli and, on Danny’s recommendation, had two different sandwiches:

                                          The Veggie—lots of wonderful, fresh, crisp veggies on this one. It’s nice when the veggies aren’t an afterthought. The cheese was good, too, although, in the interest of trying to be “skinny” I pulled the cheddar cheese off and just had the swiss. Next time, I’d probably ask them to leave the cheddar off try it with the guac and the sesame seeds—healthy fats, you know.

                                          The Dieter’s Choice--Again, nice lean turkey and lots of veggies on this one. They also offer tuna salad as an option, but they mix mayo into the tuna, so I opted for the turkey.

                                          They also have a nice roasted red pepper hummus in their fridge, (in addition to the smoked chicken, and smoked wild salmon which I still love to slice into pasta or onto a panini or over a green salad,) I think the brand is “Tribal” which is nice. I had some veggies of my own and used the hummus as a dip. If you don’t have veggies along as I did, I think Nelson’s has some whole wheat crackers for sale.

                                          What I would have rather had: hmmmm, actually, I thought the sandwiches were really good. I didn’t feel cheated at all.

                                          Byerly’s Grocery Store (Snelling & Cty Rd. C): nice selection of take-out sushi and sashimi –including salmon, and tuna, and cucumber, avocado, faux crab, and unagi, octopus--and seaweed salad (wakame). It’s not the best sushi you’ve ever had, but it feels a little decadent for lunch and is definitely healthy if you can stay away from the fried spider rolls. It’s a bit on the pricey side, too, so it’s more of a splurge if you’re having it for lunch. I tried to find the brown rice sushi that MSPD mentioned, but they didn’t seem to have it that day—I know I’ve seen it before, though. I could have gotten the sashimi, but instead got the sushi and abandonned the rice halfway through.

                                          evasnitkin and jeanmt mentioned spring rolls: Byerly's has some nice looking shrimp spring-rolls, too, that maybe I'll try some day.

                                          What I would have rather had: oh goodness, Byerly’s has some wonderful take-out stuff, including their famous Wild Rice Soup, chicken pot pies, mac and cheese, not to mention the baked goods. But, to be honest, they really offer tons of healthy options: nice pre-packaged housemade salads and “sandwich” wraps that only have about 300 calories according to their label. You can head to the produce aisle and they have plenty of pre-cut fruit –pineapple and berries and such--that make a healthy dessert and/or snack option. I like their pre-cut carrots and jicama. I don’t know why, but jicama is nice and crunchy and refreshing for me. You could definitely do the healthy take-out thing at Byerly’s and feel like you had plenty of choices without getting bored.



                                          1. I recently moved to MSP and started working in Minneapolis. Anyone have any healthy, diet friendly recomendations in the downtown area besides sushi? I love sushi, but can't afford to eat it for lunch everyday. Haven't really been able to find a great salad place either...any suggestions are appreciated!

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: bullygirl

                                              Be'wiched on Washington Avenue. They have a number of excellent sandwiches, soups and salads -- plenty of healthy options. Everything is made from scratch and they have an ever-changing group of "specials".


                                              1. re: bullygirl

                                                Spoonriver or Cafe Brenda are healthy by design..=)

                                                If you're on the south side of downtown, venture over to the Wedge Co-op on Franklin & Lyndale. It's a grocery store w.the best deli & bakery (yes, healthy baking) around.

                                                If on the east side of downtown, okay okay, this isnt' downtown but in Seweard, the Birchwood Cafe offers a rotating arrangement of grain & green salads, super healthy sandwiches and soups, and other fun entrees. May include some fat (cheese), but it's all super non-processed, natural food, so it's still more healthy than you'd think.

                                                1. re: reannd

                                                  Thanks for the suggestions - unfortunately I'm on the northside of town (7th Street & Marquette) so those won't work for me. But, next time I drive in I will have to check them out. I found a greek place that has decent salads although the grilled chicken on top was a bit too processed for my liking. On a walk today I noticed there is a juice place in the US Bank building that has salads and sandwiches so I'll have to check that out as well. Having just moved from NYC, what I really miss are the salad bars where you tell the person making the salad what to put in and then they toss it for you. They have this in the basement of Macy's but the indgredients aren't very good. D'Brians also has something similar, but they don't really get it either and didn't have plain balsamic vinegar for dressing, only full fat pre-made stuff. I'm missing the huge selection of veggie toppings that I used to be able to get - artichokes, roasted peppers, sun flower seeds, etc.

                                                  1. re: bullygirl

                                                    Macy's and D. Brian's are the places I usually recommend for healthy lunches and good salads.

                                                    I've only been there once and didn't much care for it myself, but the only place that I know of that has the toppings you mention is Salad Creations (http://www.saladcreations.net/custom....) although still no roasted peppers. They are located on skyway level in the same building as the downtown Target store. (On Nicollet heading from 9th towards 10th.)

                                                    If you haven't already, check out these threads where we discuss good food to be found in the skyways:


                                                    Welcome to the Twin Cities!

                                                    1. re: StPauliGirl

                                                      The Skyroom on the 12th floor of Macy's has a decent salad bar with more
                                                      upscale toppings and dressing ingredients, including plain olive oil and I think
                                                      they have balsamic vinegar. They are open weekdays till 3, and you can get
                                                      the salad bar to go- you do it yourself, no one makes the salad for you.

                                                      1. re: faith

                                                        Having tried Macy's basement, D. Brian's and the Skyroom, I think none of them get close to what bullygirl is talking about. As somebody who has also just moved from New York, I'm thinking I'm going to have to start frequenting Cosi to get these salads -- and I'd pretty much given up Cosi in New York! I haven't found many healthy skyway options, but it's only been a month. Will have to try Salad Creations, but it's a bit far for everyday for me over at 6th & 2nd Ave (as is Cosi, really).