Week 4: The food court…

Reuben &Moore- Food court Westfield Sydney

Eating away from home isn’t always going out for dinner, for many it’s a daily visit to the food court. So this week that’s what we did- The Westfield Food Court in Sydney.

 We wandered around, took some notes on most places, then ate at Reuben & Moore. See below for the specifics…

 Nutrition- 8

Taste – 7.5

Budget – Medium

Service – 5 (It’s a counter, so limited, but still good)

Ambience – 4 (it’s a food court after all)

Extra mile- 4

*Scores are out of 10

Reuben & Moore: Overall rating – 28.5/50 on a medium budget

Mike

We both work out of a gym that is below a food court. It sometimes comes in handy when we haven’t prepared any food to take in. It’s also a stone’s throw from about 3 other food courts and come 11am they are busy through until about 2:30pm each weekday.

The one we visited is a touch further away, is open on weekends also and is largely filled with shoppers and tourists. We chose this food court because it is probably the largest one in central Sydney and we also know there is a variety of choices from sugary crap to awesome nutritious meals.

Walking around this food court it is easy to see how people make mistakes when such a place. Signage, marketing and ‘deals’ all work to lure us in to try what’s on offer in exchange for our much sought after dollar. It’s bloody confusing most of the time and when you confound that with the usual ‘need’ to get fed and out of there as quick as possible, you can often leave having done your body, health, energy and knowledge of nutrition no good at all.

 Pricey & laden with crap

So just what should you look out for in a food court?

To me this is painfully obvious, because I hark on about it to anyone who asks and I see the mistakes time and time again; simple, clean and real food. Most food courts will have some options involving proteins, salads and vegetables. Some will require a bit of lateral thinking and requesting of specific requirements.

Choose your steak or deli options

One thing you should never be afraid to do when eating out is to ask for something specific. Unless it’s a super radical eighteen star joint, in which case you should probably realise as much and enjoy the pants out of the meal. Otherwise tell them you can’t eat sugar or you’ll slowly bloat beyond medical help (its called diabetes) so can you please have the salad without the sauce, for example.

 A sneaky sugar bomb waiting to go off in your body!

Some places are great quality compared to others, and price is a good starting point here, however, at times you just have to assume (unless you ask them) the worst and avoid. So on that, let’s look at some general guidelines.

Things to avoid:

  • Cheap and rice heavy sushi rolls, instead opt for sashimi if it’s fresh!
  • Cheap Asian eateries. This usually means little protein and vegetables whilst being rice, noodle, sugar and vegetable oil heavy. Instead try and get the ‘drier’ dishes with protein and vegetables and avoid the rice.
  • Kebab joints, burger places and hotdog stands are often high in crappy meat and bread. Look for burger places that have the burger as a salad.
  • Sandwiches, rolls and wraps. Eating this more than every now and then will lead to bloating, gut issues and fat storage. Choose the salad options at these places.
  • Yogurts and ‘breakfast’ places. The yogurt at these places is usually poor quality and packed with added sugar, especially if it’s ‘low-fat’, before the fruit has even been added and usually with muesli too. At these places get eggs, omelettes with a side of fruit such as fresh berries.
  • Salads that are sauce and dressing heavy. These usually contain nasty vegetable oils and added sugars. Request plain salads with simple dressings such as extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinaigrette or a combination of these.
  • Traditional fast food joints. This is a no brainer- if the food court you frequent has a big M and any of his contemporaries’ then stay away, regardless of what the advertising says. You won’t find health or look good naked by choosing these. Instead walk past them and go for the roast house with greens and roasted vegetables or the fish place for grilled fish and salad.

Ditto- nuts & vege

Seeing a pattern here? There are (usually) always options, you might just have to look harder or ask some questions.

 

For us we saw some great eateries, some with quality and terrible options before settling on Reuben & Moore, which makes sandwiches and plates consisting of great quality meat as the base.

We’ve eaten here before and this kind of place is an awesome food court option. As we’re both meat geeks (yes I have worn NN down to the point that she gets audibly and physically excited by meat, ah thank you) we couldn’t wait for the mix plate of ham off the bone, roast pork and roast beef with various vegetables.

I’ll leave the rest largely to NN, but I can say that this meal was awesome, the meat was fantastic and I loved the option of trying three of their choices in one meal. I’ll happily eat here again, and possibly try the fish place next door in the food court.

Admittedly this food court is a tad more up market than many others, but many in Sydney have the protein, salad and vegetable options. Sometimes you just have to wean through a menu. Other places might just need some encouragement to serve you what you want- don’t be afraid to ask! It’s your body!

 

And you can’t really go wrong with three meats on the one plate…

 One excited NN

Nards

Lets’ be honest here, I was keen for some late night shopping, so sold MC on the concept of ‘researching’ the food court for the blog. Any time I can promise him quality meat on a plate normally ensures compliance. Ha, kidding.

On a serious note, I did actually suggest a food court experience because one of the most common questions that I get from a variety of clients and friends is ‘what can I eat when I go to a food court?’ This is normally making reference to breakfast and lunch options, and whilst my obvious answer to that is going to be ‘make your food at home and bring it in’, it is not necessarily a feasible option at times.

I have found myself educating people on food courts time and time again, so it seems that this is a challenge faced by many.

Like most, I have often found myself wondering around a food court, searching for appropriate choices, which when super hungry is not the best thing in the world to be doing.  It is often at that point of starvation whereby ‘my stomach is eating itself from the inside out’ that one tends to go for the nearest, and most often the worst, food choice.  So here are some of the standard recommendations that I make to clients:

  1. NEVER go to the food court super hungry.  The smells and aromas will only force you to make a wrong choice.  It is the same concept of ‘never do grocery shopping hungry’, as you come home with loads more groceries than needed (and often random ‘treats’ sneak into the trolley).
  2. If you go to the same food court get to know the owners of each outlet.  If you do this you will be in a better position to make special requests, as well as get to know what type of ingredients they use
  3. Be prepared to ‘shop’ around for lunch – for example you might buy salad from one shop, and then buy grilled chicken from another.
  4. When you ‘shop’ around for lunch be prepared to spend more per meal than if you purchase from the one shop.  Bear in mind, that whilst it may be expensive you are looking after your health (and after all can you really put a price on health? Nope – You only have one body so you might as well look after it!) Mike’s note: you can pay now or pay later.
  5. Eat Slowly!  I know I have said this before, but it is even more important when in a food court.  Food courts are sensory overload and it is very easy to eat quickly, not feel full, and buy something else.  Remember just being around all the smells will keep your body thinking its hungry even when you are not.
  6. Stay away from all burgers, pizza, kebabs, pasta, deep fried Asian goods, fried goods in general, Thai, Indian and Mexican places (as MC pointed out earlier on), unless you are getting meat and vegetable or salad options.

Some great vege options, but some soy & heavy grains too

The Pitt St Westfield is certainly a step up from the usual food courts, and the price and quality reflects this.  With places like Rueben and Moore, Nero Nero and Cloudy Bay it is definitely worth adding to the list of places to go and eat whilst shopping.  The offerings of roast meats, beautifully cooked vegetables, salads, and fresh fish will make anyone happy regardless of how much money has just been spent on clothes.

Fish options

There were options that we won’t list, but you’d be best avoiding. Just remember to keep it simple and make good choices based on your health and body compositions goals.

Next week: No idea… But it will undoubtedly have some more great every day information for you. Stay tuned, and if you have any questions about the stuff we’ve talked about, flick us a comment below…

Mike and Nards

7 comments on “Week 4: The food court…

  1. This is beyond awesome advice. I find myself wandering around food courts, then getting fed up not know what healthy option to choose and end up getting the usual bad choice, with an excuse ‘this is the last time’, now I have way better understanding of what I’m looking for. 🙂

  2. Also keep in mind the green grocers/supermarkets usually have fresh salads add a piece of grilled chicken from a deli and done 🙂

  3. Pingback: Week 7: Nando’s | Fifty Two

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