Eating Healthy in Plattsburgh

Discover what Plattsburgh has to offer when it comes to eating out and eating healthy


Story and photos by Carey Vanderborg

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Cheechako Taco is located in downtown Plattsburgh.

Eating out in Plattsburgh and eating healthy at the same time can be a hard thing to do, and not over-indulging at a restaurant can be even harder. “I like to show a little restraint when I eat and not act like it’s the last meal on earth,” says Paul Mullins, Plattsburgh Wellness Center personal trainer. 

“When I want a fast and convenient lunch, I usually go somewhere where I can get something cheap, affordable, and where I can easily order something very healthy.” And fast and healthy is what Cheechako Taco, located in downtown Plattsburgh, is all about. But for those who aren't in a hurry, LivinGoods is another option.

“Plattsburgh doesn’t have too many vegetarian options in the downtown area besides us,” says Cheechako Taco owner and operator, James Ward. “The original owners offered the vegetarian menu, but when I took over the place, I added vegan options. We now offer Tempeh and can prepare a tequila lime Tempeh burrito, which is 100 percent vegan.”

The one problem you might run into at most of the restaurants in Plattsburgh is carbohydrates. Most small restaurants assume that people are expecting giant portions, so they fulfill that expectation by piling on cheap and unimpressive refined grains. Rice, noodles, bread, and chips are the biggest offenders.

“When I want a fast and convenient lunch, I usually go somewhere where I can get something cheap, affordable, and where I can easily order something very healthy.”

 “If people are looking to avoid the carbohydrates from flower, we offer corn tortillas for our tacos,” Ward says. “You can also do a straight up veggie burrito with unseasoned chicken, which is pure protein, if that’s what you’re looking for.”

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Cheechako Taco features a vegetarian menu.

Ordering is half the battle when eating out. Most restaurants in Plattsburgh have huge menus with tons of options. In many of these places the food is good, so ordering something a little bit smaller or a bit healthier is not a big sacrifice, and it could save you hundreds of calories and hours on the treadmill.

Cheechako Taco is in the process having a dietician do a nutritional analysis of their menu in order to make their options as healthy and nutritious as possible. “Because we only use fresh ingredients, we’re confident that the food we serve is going to be healthy in some way or another,” Ward says.

When eating out for any meal, it’s especially important to include some green on your plate. If you’re not going all the way healthy, at least make an effort to have a good portion of something healthy in your meal. The nice thing about vegetables (and other healthy fats) is that they contribute to feeling full.

With the “Build Your Own Burrito” section of the menu at Cheechako Taco, you can choose from a wide selection of different veggies, proteins, and sauces, that will help your dinner go from being unhealthy and unsatisfying to nutritious and gratifying.

“When you eat out, there aren’t any rules that say you have to eat like you’re trying to be unhealthy.”

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Walk-up ordering at Cheechako Taco makes eating on the go an easy option.

“When I eat out at a restaurant for dinner in Plattsburgh and I decide to get a regular cheeseburger and they ask me if I want a side of French fries, I can tell them no.” Mullins says. “When you eat out, there aren’t any rules that say you have to eat like you’re trying to be unhealthy.”

“There are some things on the menu that are more calorie packed, like any of the cream cheeses or sauces, but if you’re health conscious already, you’ll know to stay away from those things,” Ward says. “If you’re trying to be super health conscious, we also have some awesome salad options.”

If you’re looking for a dining experience that is less casual but still healthy, check out LivinGoods, located at 14 Margaret St. in downtown Plattsburgh.

LivinGoods offers a number of healthy options such as the sesame ahi tuna salad or the spinach-filled hummus wrap.

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LivinGoods Restaurant is located in Riverview Plaza, Plattsburgh.

“I think a restaurant with healthy alternatives was a niche that needed filling around here,” says Matt Ray, LivinGoods head chef and co-owner. “We put food on our menu that we would eat ourselves when we go out, and that’s why there are so many healthy options.”

For people who are trying to eat healthier, it is important to avoid eating an excess of things that are beneficial in small doses. A common offender is sodium chloride, or table salt. While sodium aids in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure and helps body tissue retain water, too much of the mineral can actually raise blood pressure and lead to kidney damage. Doctors and dieticians across the country have advised patients to take in less sodium. A pinch of table salt on your eggs in the morning, and a dash on your baked potato for dinner can quickly add up to unhealthy levels and increased potential for health problems.

 “I think sodium is the next public enemy number one,” Ray says. That’s something that I try to be a little conscious of when I cook. I’ve eaten at places that just load you up with salt and it’s just disgusting. If a customer wants their food a little saltier, they can always add more themselves.

Sometimes when you go out to eat, you may not find what you want on the menu. Even when you do there might be something that you do not like that comes with the entrée. Many restaurants are bombarded with special orders and substitutions. Simple substitutions are no problem for the kitchen at LivinGoods.

“We put food on our menu that we would eat ourselves when we go out, and that’s why there are so many healthy options.”

“Occasionally I’ll get someone who wants me to prepare their vegetables with no butter, just steamed,” Ray says. “I don’t have a problem catering to requests like that, even though there’s a very little amount of butter on our vegetables to begin with.”

As a large portion of the population battles an obesity epidemic and a strong desire for over sweetened and over salted dishes, it is clear that nutritious, fresh foods are becoming critical components of our meals.

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When looking to dine out, LivinGoods is a more upscale choice.

“We still serve wings, burgers, and French fries.” Ray says. “But I think the thing that makes us healthier than the other restaurants around is that we cook freshly prepared food. Not to say that it’s all low-fat, low-calorie food, but I think it’s more important that whatever you eat here, healthy or not, it’s going to be freshly prepared.”

People who live healthy lifestyles do so by living a balanced life full of nutritious meals. With more than seventy full-service restaurants in Plattsburgh, it is more then possible to enjoy a good meal without damaging your waistline or destroying your taste buds.

“We go to the extreme to really try to satisfy everybody’s taste buds,” Ward says. “I think the one thing we haven’t explored yet is kosher food.”

 

How important is it to eat healthy when you eat out?

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