Many large towns and cities such as Canberra (my home town) have an array of restaurants to choose from. New places seem to open daily and as we become more invested in our health culinary entrepreneurs have responded by providing an increasing number of healthy eating options on the menu.
In 2015 my family relocated to the beautiful Lighthouse beach area of Port Macquarie. My family have a long history with this town, going back some 50 years to when my husband’s grandparents bought a farm on what use to be the outskirts of town on Ruins Way. Both our parents also retired here (though they seem to have a pretty active “retirement”), so when our wonderful daughter Rylee came along it seemed an opportune time to bring four generations to this place we consider a home away from home.
I’ve always had a keen interest in health and fitness. As a nutritionist I’m fascinated by the various important roles food plays in our lives – from the obvious benefits to health, to the place that meals and eating out hold in our relationships and social lives. Now, while Port may not have a comparable number of cafes and restaurants to some larger urban areas, our town (my new home) does boast some fantastic options for eating out whilst staying in line with your health and wellness goals.
Here is a list of some of my favourites that I’ve discovered thus far:
Whalebone– one of the nicest seafood restaurants I have been to. They offer an extensive range of fresh seafood options in a beautiful setting on the Hastings River. Seafood is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids important for your brain and body. Omega-3 possesses anti-inflammatory properties and is important for brain health, protecting against heart disease, and is beneficial in conditions such as diabetes, obesity, depression, arthritis, ADHD and skin disorders. Great options include grilled fish with a side of steamed vegetables such as fresh salmon or macadamia crusted barramundi fillet.
Mekong– a delicious Thai restaurant that has so many delicious meal options it can be hard to choose what to order. While the heavy curries and fried entrees are scrumptious, if you’re looking for some healthier indulgences opt for rice-paper roll entrees, Tom Yum Soup, and stir-fries or salads seasoned with fresh herbs and light sauces such as the Yum Het, Yum Gai, Yum Pla, Larb Gai, and Pad Krapow.
Milk bar– my favourite café at the moment. Located across from town beach it offers an all-day breakfast menu, delicious smoothies and burgers for lunch. The burgers, with in-house made chicken, beef or veggie patties, are on the small side and served without the addition of fries – perfect for a light lunch. Among my menu choices are the vegetable juice, fresh veggie or tuna wraps, and the vegetarian or chicken burgers.
Rivermark Café– beautiful setting on the Hastings River with a great menu. For lighter/ healthier choices you can’t go past the pear and feta salad, warm chicken salad or grilled lime perch with salad and salsa. There’s a good chance you may be graced by a passing dolphin or two cruising the river while you enjoy your meal.
Sea Acres– Located in the Sea Acres Rainforest, the French-influenced café is surrounded by nature. A variety of well-portioned, nutritious and tasty gourmet sandwiches are available including a salmon, a chicken and vegetarian option, and with the choice of wholemeal or gluten-free bread. A salad option is often a daily special or on the regular menu and always combines quality nutritional ingredients. The green juice is also very refreshing. After lunch there’s also a fantastic rainforest walk just outside.
LV on Clarence– a busy, happening café that never disappoints. The menu changes regularly with the seasons (a good sign of sustainably sourced ingredients), but generally includes a healthy wrap or salad combo for lunch, a healthier bircher muesli, the most amazing egg or fritter breakfasts and even a paleo breakfast option. Exploring Town Green afterwards and checking out the Koalas is always nice as well.
At the end of the day most restaurants can cater towards healthier eating options, it’s all about making the conscious choice and having the knowledge to choose your food wisely. Choose grilled, steamed or roasted, rather than fried, get your veggies in by asking for a side of salad or vegetables, avoid drinking your calories by choosing water on most occasions, eat slowly to allow time for your body to register when it is full, and if going out for a 3-course meal consider sharing the entrée or dessert. But above all remember your body responds to what you do most of the time, so if a healthier you was on your New Year’s resolution list and you have a night (or two) of indulgence don’t sweat it, just get back on track the following day.