Or, do you wish you could make it healthier so you could enjoy it more often?
This happens to us all the time!
On our most recent trip to Montana, we had a Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich, a Squash Schnitzel, a Beet Salad with Horseradish Yogurt, and an Autumn Bruschetta that were all absolutely amazing! As we were enjoying these meals, we could hardly contain our excitement to recreate these dishes at home - and then, of course, share them with all of you!
In case you missed it, the Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich was in the meal ideas this past Thursday. (Stay tuned, we are still working on the others!)
"I wish we could make this at home!"
We have SO MANY recipes on the Eat REAL America website that were inspired by meals that we or an Eat REAL America member had at a local restaurant or while traveling.
One example is a Butternut Squash Lasagna that our Eat REAL America member, Debbie Vance, enjoyed at a local restaurant. She reached out to us to tell us how amazing it was, but she knew it wasn't super-healthy (loaded with cheese and heavy cream). She wondered if there was any way to create a healthier version of this dish that she and her husband could enjoy at home. With a little work, we came up with a healthier version, loaded with veggies and, with its smoky tomato sauce, it's absolutely delicious and Debbie approved!
Inspiration in the Airport?!
Another one is the Cilantro Carrot Lentil Salad. Zonya ate this salad while traveling through the Chicago airport, and she was blown away how delicious it was (not your typical airport food!). She even sent me the label with the ingredients and said "we have to find a way to re-create this one!" We immediately got to work and came up with a version that was as good as (maybe even better than?!) the one she enjoyed at the airport.
An Eat REAL America member has even commented that she could eat this delicious salad at least once a week!
Bi Bim What?!
Would you believe we had never had (or even heard of) Bi Bim Bop until a trip to Chicago with our kids several years ago? After church, we went to Sunday brunch at a local restaurant and their special that day was a dish that was loaded with raw and cooked seasonal veggies, topped with marinated thinly sliced beef, a sunny side up egg and spicy gochujang sauce (served over rice in a hot stone bowl). We fell in love with this incredible meal, which become the inspiration for our Bi Bim Bop recipe!
Even the Shishito Peppers were inspired by an appetizer we had at a restaurant in Portland, OR!
Do you have a restaurant meal you frequently crave and would love to recreate it at home?
Here are some tips:
- Ask for the recipe. It never hurts to ask, right?! Even if they won't share the actual recipe, they may share enough about how they made the dish that it will give you a good roadmap to create it at home. And, let's be honest, most chefs will be honored that you asked and will be happy to talk about how they made it. You can ask questions like, "What made it spicy?" or "What provided the crunchy texture?" When we partnered with our super-talented local Chef Travis Russell for a farm-to-table lunch, he gladly shared how he made the Moroccan Spice Lamb Pizza and was thrilled we wanted to share it with all of our Eat REAL America members!
- Consult your research assistant. You know the one...Google! Sometimes, chefs will share their recipes or there potentially could be a video of them making the dish on a local cooking show. Or maybe someone else has already tried to recreate it. If you can't find the specific recipe from the restaurant, you might find a recipe that will give you a good starting point and some inspiration. Then, you can adapt it and make it your own.
- Take a picture of the menu and the meal. Most restaurant menus will describe the dish, including the key ingredients and maybe even a description of how it was prepared. We find this very helpful when we are in the kitchen asking ourselves, "What all did they put in that dish again?" Having a picture of the meal can also be useful.
- Make it your own! You may not be able to 100% replicate the restaurant's preparation. They may use ingredients that aren't readily available or use preparations that aren't practical in your kitchen (especially if you are trying to keep it quick and easy). That's part of the fun - coming up with something that is just as delicious, and is easy to prepare and good for you!
The best tip of all?
Ask us for help! We love the challenge of recreating your favorite meals, and making them both delicious and nutritious. Now, keep in mind, there are some things that we may not be able to healthify (like a Deep-Dish Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese - yes, believe it or not, this is a real thing). Rest assured - we will always give it our best shot!
Just in case you have not already discovered these ideas on the website, here are more restaurant-inspired recipes we would love for you to check out:
Cilantro Pesto Cod (Chef Paul Freimuth, one of our favorite local chefs served up a delicious Wasabi Spiced Cod during a health and wellness conference - this version comes pretty darn close to his dish!)
Green Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts (another Kansas City restaurant blew us away with this combination of pears, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese...don't skip the candied walnuts!)
Lemony Chia Seed Pudding (Zonya and good friend, Paula Doust, enjoyed this refreshing pudding at a local Michigan restaurant after a 10K race, and they did a fantastic job recreating it at home!)
Caprese Bruschetta (we enjoyed this super simple appetizer at a New York City restaurant before a Yankees game - crazy good with fresh in-season ingredients!)
Roasted Beet Salad with Candied Pecans (a memorable meal in Fayetteville, Arkansas inspired this recipe that includes candied pecans and a garlic lemon vinaigrette!)
Watermelon Blueberry Salad (Several years ago, Zonya was enjoying lunch with her sweet mom and they discovered this sensational summer salad at a local restaurant - so good we had to recreate it for all of you!)
Hawaiian Fajitas (in Oklahoma? Yep, that's where the inspiration for this one came from - delicious!)
EBLT with Balsamic Mayo (we enjoyed this in a garden at a St. Louis restaurant and this is what inspired us include an egg on our BLT and to fall in love with runny yolks!)
Brunch Inspired Sheet Pan Salmon (a delicious brunch in Puerto Rico inspired us to come up with this recipe where you can roast everything on a large sheet pan, and even cook some poached eggs in a muffin pan at the same time.)
White Castle Inspired Burgers (for those who remember enjoying White Castle burgers, this is a healthier version with the same distinctive taste!)
Seafood Stuffed Pork Chops (amazing meal at a restaurant near Fort Worth, TX - it may seem fancy, but it is really easy to prepare.)
Healthified Bloomin' Onion (healthier version of the classic restaurant version -- you know the one, which has 1,620 calories, 126 grams of fat and 4,140 mg of sodium!)
Sausage, Potato and Kale Soup (our Eat REAL America member, Meagan Higgins, was the inspiration for creating a healthier -- and just as tasty -- version of the Olive Garden Zappa Toscana soup.)
We would love to hear from you -- send us your ideas!
Whether it is a delicious restaurant meal you think we should re-create, or simply one of your favorite family meals you would like to make healthier, we love a good challenge! Remember, your local restaurants can provide great inspiration for new recipes for the Eat REAL America community!