Eating out while on a restrictive diet is probably the number one reason people give up a healthy lifestyle. It’s understandable. Eating out and socializing is a big part of our lifestyles and as crucial for our health as eating wholesome, nutritious foods.
And I’m here to encourage you not to make this your reason to give up because there are always ways to work around it and keep your healthy habits even when eating out. And I might add, you can have a great experience and eat excellent food. This is your guide to eating the plant paradox way in New York City.
Eating out a guideline for plant paradoxers
I’m just back from a two-week trip to New York City and a quick detour to Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve stayed complaint all along. I allowed myself a few little indulgences, like a fresh from the sea seaweed salad at a fish market that probably had a little bit of soy sauce in it (although I don’t know for sure). Still, it was the best food I’ve had during this holiday, and I felt perfect during and after eating it.
So I’ve compiled a list of places where I had a bite outside the home (my sister’s home in NYC), so you don’t have to spend that much time searching for options every day. But before that, here are a few notes on what helped and made it easier to stay compliant on a two-week vacation.
Gundry MD Lectin Shield
I always carry Gundry MD Lectin Shield with me. Even if you go to the best restaurant, you can’t know for sure every single ingredient used. I don’t know about you, but I want to feel my best during a trip.
How does Gundry MD Lectin Shield work?
The nine potent ingredients in Lectin Shield act together to give your body full anti-lectin support making it easier for your body to digest lectin foods. *
Several of the components found in Lectin Shield help counteract the potentially distressing effects of lectins. Some of the ingredients may even have useful antioxidant and anti-fatigue properties.
- N Acetyl D-Glucosamine – binds to harmful lectins from wheat. Since wheat lectins have been associated with joint problems, this wheat lectin blocker is also a popular ingredient in joint health supplements.
- Bladderwrack – a powerful seaweed, has been shown in studies to bind to lectins.
- D-Mannose – a potent natural compound that binds to specific lectins in legumes, a lectin-rich food.
- Okra (fruit) – is your source for raw polysaccharide (RPS), a powerful compound that binds to multiple lectins. As a concentrated source of polyphenols, okra extract has been shown to have powerful antioxidant and anti-fatigue properties.
- Mucin – helps to form a slippery protective barrier inside your digestive tract. Not to mention, the sialic acid in mucin binds to multiple sources of foods containing lectins, including those found in wheat and several types of berries.
- Sodium Alginate – When you’re dealing with lectin-based digestive problems, sodium alginate can be your best friend. It also acts as a “fecal bulking agent,” which can help make bathroom visits much more pleasant and less frantic.
- Vegetable Peptase – When you eat lectins, they inhibit peptidase, an important enzyme your body uses to break down proteins in your food, which can spell trouble for your digestive tract. So, I’ve included vegetable peptase in Lectin Shield to assist your protein digestion and help counteract the digestive effects of lectins.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – I mentioned earlier that foods containing lectins, particularly wheat lectins, have been tied to joint discomfort.13 MSM has been shown to be a powerful agent for helping to reduce joint discomfort — especially if you use it in combination with N-Acetyl D Glucosamine above.
- Larch Arabinogalactans – Arabinogalactans have been shown to increase butyrate production in gut bacteria. Butyrate nourishes your gut lining, which is your first line of defense against lectins and other harmful substances you unknowingly eat.
*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.
I do not recommend cheating big, though, like taking Lectin Shield and having only pizza, pasta and donuts. There is no miracle supplement to counteract the effects of a bad diet.
If you have to eat something you are not sure is compliant, better be safe than sorry. Take two lectin shields 30 minutes before a meal, but don’t use it as an excuse to eat anything and everything.
Look for authentic Italian and Greek restaurants and restaurants with diet concepts like Paleo and Keto
The best bet is authentic Italian and Greek restaurants when you start looking for restaurants. Because they always use olive oil for cooking, and the rest is easy to figure out. But don’t go into deep-fried items; I’m not sure if they would use olive oil (most probably not). Stick with the fish and seafood. Most of them have a fish of the day or a seafood plate cooked with sautéed seasonal and local vegetables (which you can easily ask questions about).
The other types of restaurants that offer food that can be easily made compliant are the new concepts, those that provide food around different diets (like paleo and keto) or focused on plant-based, sustainable, local, organic food. Don’t expect to have any compliant food in fast food. But there are few exceptions, like Bareburger, where it is relatively easy to get a compliant item.
Intermittent fasting makes life on a trip much easier (and keeps you alert, healthy, and happy). There were never three meals on my journey. I always skipped early morning meals, and I would only worry about lunch and dinner.
Bring lectin-free snacks along
When you are in transit, on the road, it’s hard to find compliant food. So make sure you always have compliant snacks with you. I had approved Quest Bars (which I only had a bite of, but it gave me peace of mind to know I have an option),
I had Terra or Barnana green plantain chips whenever I’d find them, and the new chocolate I found In New York City, The Good Chocolate, which is fantastic and almost complaint (not all of them, though) because it has a small quantity of mesquite powder in it which I’m not sure, but it might have some lectins. On the contrary, I had this chocolate I had on the entire trip and never felt bad from it, so if I start finding it in Dalla,s I’ll continue to eat it.
Look for Whole Foods
Whole Foods is everywhere, and you will always find compliant food there or groceries if you have a place to cook. Luckily, we prepared some nice dinners at my sister’s home. We even baked carrot muffins, and walnut bread and made some granola for her.
Nine restaurants in New York City where I ate the plant paradox way
I had no idea about this chain, and I found it by coincidence while checking google maps. This was my first time on this trip eating out in NYC. I didn’t know what to expect from it, so I took Lectin Shield before the meal. I ordered from the ‘make your own burger’ menu, and I chose the grass-fed bison patty, avocado, and organic greens, all wrapped in Collard greens. It was super tasty and an exciting way to eat a burger. For all their fried or sautéed items, they use canola oil. But if you stick with raw items (or blanched, as the collard greens are), you will be fine.
This is a fancy bar with an artsy vibe on the rooftop of Indigo Hotel in Lower East Side Manhattan. If you want some of the best NYC views and a bowl of compliant salad, this is the place to go.
I had kale and Brussel sprouts salad with a pistachio vinaigrette and pecorino cheese. This was an example of working with the waiter to make the salad fully compliant. I asked how the Brussel sprouts are cooked, and since they were cooked in a non-compliant vegetable or peanut oil, the chef suggested he shaves them and add them raw, which I was perfectly good with. The next time I had the salad, I asked for half avocado on top.
I loved how graceful and helpful the staff was, and it made the experience enjoyable. I also have a new idea for salad because I loved the combination of baby kale, raw Brussels sprouts, and pistachios.
To find this one I searched for paleo restaurants in NYC. There were few, but this one was close, and it seemed the most popular. You might know the name. They also have a brand of chocolate (which has sugar in it, unfortunately).
A place where you don’t need to ask about oils because they only use avocado and olive oil. Most of their dishes are compliant (there are few using quinoa and nightshades), but there is a big selection of plant paradox compliant food. I had some grass-fed steak with some super yummy veggie sides, including sweet potatoes, kale, book Choi, cabbage, and other stuff.
Unfortunately, their snack and packaged food section are not plant paradox friendly. There are always some chia seeds, cashews, and almonds with skin or coconut sugar involved, and I could not find one compliant item.
A super small and cozy authentic Italian restaurant in Lower East Side Manhattan, whose Italian chef and owner, Maurizio Crescenzo has gained some popularity for being the winner of the TV series CHOPPED.
The menu is simple, uses seasonal ingredients, and even has grass-fed steak. The food is cooked in the old Italian style, in olive oil. We started with a cheese platter appetizer, and for the main, I had the fish of the day, with was sustainably caught yellowfin tuna steak, cooked to perfection, with a side of sautéed broccoli rabe. The amount of tuna was double what I could eat, and it was perfect to share with my husband, who had cauliflower ravioli for the main dish.
I was familiar with Eataly from Dubai, located in Dubai Mall, within walking distance from my workplace. But I completely forgot about it until I saw it again in NYC.
I love the place, minus the fact that it is always crowded, but something’s going to give, right? You might say it’s hard to stay compliant in a place where pizza and pasta are celebrated in true Italian fashion, but I’ll tell you a secret. Go to Il Pesce (which means fish in Italian), where you will find fantastic seafood that can easily be made compliant. The waiters are always asking about allergies and food preferences, and they are ready to accommodate your requests.
I had the best-broiled sardines ever, with fresh herbs and lemon, and a fantastic salad, called Tricolore salad, with endives, radicchio, and arugula – isn’t that the perfect Plant Paradox salad? I usually get red wine, but I felt a prosecco would complement this food better this time.
This Greek restaurant was recommended by an Instagram friend (who goes by the name @modernwinter) and oh my I’m so grateful. This place is awesome and has the best octopus appetizer. Originally made with bell peppers, just ask them to leave the peppers out, the rest is compliant. I also had back sea bass with a side of broccoli rabe and it was one of the best dining experiences we had in NYC. They also have a grilled cauliflower dish, oysters and grilled calamari that I’m sure are compliant or very easy to ask for modification.
This is one of those new concepts I was talking about. A place that emphasizes clean, thoughtful, wholesome cooking, mainly vegetarian, but not exclusive, using seasonal, organic, local sources ingredients. Of course, there are many nightshades on their menu, but they have grass-fed beef and items that can be made compliant.
I had endives and arugula salad with goat cheese, citrus (a few grapefruit slices), and walnut, to which I added half avocado. I had charred sweet potatoes with smoked sea salt and olive oil as a side dish. As you can imagine, everything was delicious.
If you want a table, you will probably have to reserve one. There is no need for a reservation if you are ready to take a seat at the bar (which we did). It’s a busy place.
Another Italian restaurant in West Village, quite popular, where the chef cooks with olive oil (Sogno Toscano) in most of the dishes (as mentioned previously, stay away from deep-fried items).
Great Northern Food Hall
UPDATE: Unfortunately, The Great Northern Food Hall is permanently closed.
Located in The Grand Central Terminal, this is a concept by famous Danish chef Claus Mayer, offering authentic Scandinavian food. We went there because my husband is Danish and wanted to check out this place.
I had the salmon salad with was almost compliant, but took some lectin shield and tasted my husband’s and my sister’s open sandwiches on rye sourdough bread. This is probably not a place to specifically visit for lectin-free food. But it is the only place where you can eat clean if you go and see The Grand Central Terminal in NYC or if you want to experience Scandinavian food.
Most of the bread they use (if not all) is sourdough and they even offer classes on how to make your own Scandinavian sourdough bread. The place also has one Michelin star.
Bonus. An escape to Martha’s Vineyard, where eating healthy is the norm, not the exception
While in New York City, we escaped for a couple of days to Martha’s Vineyard, a beautiful Island 3.5h drive away from NYC, plus a 1.45h fast ferry trip. The salty ocean breeze gave me life, even though the weather was not ideal. But the food! This is where eating healthy is the norm, not the exception. Most of the food is grown and sourced locally, and the seafood options are abundant.
One of the best food experiences on this trip was a visit to Larsen’s Fish Market, right by the fishermen’s harbor, where we ate the freshest cherry stones, mussels, seaweed salad, and lobster for just 36$.
Another fantastic restaurant experience was Detente, my taste buds were having a joy party. The appetizers were out of this world, and the main was easy to make compliant. I had swordfish, the local staple, for the first time with a selection of compliant vegetables they graciously made at my request. And I have to tell you, this was one of those places where I feel a little shy to ask for modifications because the chef is so good I don’t want him to not feel appreciated for what he is cooking. I would happily cheat in a place like this (with a couple of lectin shields).
Must go in Martha’s Vineyard is also Morning Glory Farm, where you can have your coffee and macron almonds made with olive oil in a garden abounding with fresh herbs, leaf greens, and flowers. A perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. There are many good restaurants in Martha’s Vineyard, but there is so much we can explore and eat in two days. Check The Covington too. I had the best kale salad there and a simply cooked fish.
Your turn: What’s your favorite place to eat the plant paradox way in New York City?
If you know of other places in New York City where we can eat the plant paradox way, please leave a comment below, and I can add a later edit to this post with places recommended by you.
For more plant paradox tips and tricks for eating out and traveling, I also recommend my guide How to Stay Plant Paradox Compliant When Traveling.
*This post contains affiliated links, which means I get a small commission if you choose to purchase something via one of my links, at no extra cost to you.