Many people think that folks who become dietitians are all about restriction. The truth is, I love food so much that I went to school to study it. Reconciling my identities as a foodie and as a health conscious dietitian hasn't always been easy, though in the last five years a vogue for healthy dining has made my life run a little more smoothly. Nowadays you can stop in practically any restaurant in Houston and find a healthier option—some restaurants just require a little more creativity than others.
At La Table restaurant on Post Oak Blvd., I was completely transported to France. Everything from the décor to the music is light, airy and beautiful at La Table, but what of the French cuisine and its buttery, cheesy reputation? Before arriving I had already scoped out the menu and knew exactly what I wanted to order, which brings us to healthy foodie tip No. 1: Always look at the menu before going out to eat!
I decided on the egg carnitas, a dish of slow-cooked pork shoulder, caramelized onions, marble potatoes, cage-free eggs and shishito pepper salsa. I ordered the potatoes on the side to keep my breakfast low-carbohydrate (protein is your best friend in the morning) and added a cup of tropical hot tea. As a connoisseur of carnitas, these did not disappoint. This dish has all the makings of a healthy breakfast: It's full of lean protein, perfectly sized portions and it's filling.
"But aren't carnitas cooked in lard?" you might ask. Not at La Table. The tender pork is braised in extra-virgin olive oil. But it doesn't taste like a "diet" version of the usually fatty meat dish.
La Table has a surprising wealth of other healthy breakfast options including fruit cups, a Greek yogurt parfait with wild guajillo honey and an egg white frittata with Gruyère to name a few, but I had my sights set on the carnitas!
Normally, I would have stopped there, but this post needed some food porn, so I took one for the team and ordered my favorite dessert. Yes, a lemon tart before lunch. The best thing about this item was how light it is. You can order one, only eat half or share it and easily avoid going into a food coma on your way to work.
The healthy options at La Table aren't the only pleasant surprise. For my egg carnitas, hot tea and lemon tart, the total was $20 dollars. It doesn’t get much better than that for three menu items, but it's easily achievable with a bill of fare that ranges from $4 to $11 at breakfast.
Other meals are pricier, but still a pittance for the ability to escape to France for an hour or two. At every meal, the dishes are unique enough to excite the most adventurous of eaters and familiar enough not to scare away diners who crave familiarity. And following the theory that French Women Don't Get Fat, I would recommend this restaurant to any of my clients looking for a healthier place to dine. La Table has it all with low-carbohydrate, low-calorie and even gluten-free options. And if you simply need a bite of that lemon tart, just remember that moderation can be healthy, too.