Going out to eat for dinner is no longer just for special occasions; in the last 40 years eating out has become almost an everyday norm for many American families. For those who want to eat healthy while eating out it is possible to enjoy a nice dinner but leave the excess calories at home. “Everyone loves dining out but they hate feeling terrible later that night,” says Natalie Skilliter, owner and general manager of Corner Kitchen. “Food is power, it should make people feel good,” she says.

This is the reason many local Dayton restaurants are offering more health-conscious options. “Restaurants are responding to what the customers ask for,” says nutritionist Deborah Serenius, “Many Daytonians want to live a healthy lifestyle and eating well is a big part of that.”

Choosing a better meal all starts with analyzing the menu. Aim to keep meals around 500 calories or less, and look for dishes that are lower in fat but higher in protein and fiber. Maintaining portion size is another important thing to keep in mind. Consider ordering an appetizer as an entrée, splitting a meal or boxing up half your meal before you eat.

Contrary to popular belief, healthy dining experiences don’t have to involve a salad. Places like Wheat Penny Oven & Bar on Wayne Avenue offer a number of healthy and delicious options. Instead of looking for specifically healthy dishes look for healthy preparation words: grilled, baked, steamed or roasted.

“Baked and grilled proteins tend to have less added fat and calories than fried options,” says Serenius. Wheat Penny offers perfect examples with its roasted Yukon potatoes, grilled rock shrimp or, as Serenius recommends, the green lasagna. The pizzas also offer healthy alternatives with fresh ingredients such as roasted Italian beef, fresh spinach, house made ricotta or vegan cheese.

Another thing to look for is fresh rather than processed … but how can anyone be sure? Corner Kitchen, located on the corner of Wayne and Fifth Street, changes its menu seasonally to keep its ingredients fresh. “Nothing is better than fruits and vegetables in their season,” says Skilliter. “They don’t need a lot, just need to be prepared well.” In addition to fresh sides, Corner Kitchen also found a local lamb farmer to supply its meat. Special dishes like lamb short ribs and lamb chops are made fresh when available. “We have complete control over the menu,” Skilliter says. “Everything is made from scratch.”

Restaurants that make their food to order are great options for a healthy dining experience. Places like Linh’s Bistro in the Page Manor shopping center offer low-calorie options as well as the ingredients on the side so it’s easy to customize orders and save on certain calories.

Thanks to these Dayton restaurants, eating out and eating healthy is now going hand in hand. 

To receive more articles from Dayton Magazine sign-up for a complimentary subscription here: http://bit.ly/1l70sqL