I make most of my meals at home and bring Tupper Ware to class and work everyday. But I'm always looking to try new places to treat myself after a hard week of exams or for a good brunch with friends. I've found that the best way to eat out without guilt is balance.

Go to restaurants that don't have tempting dishes containing a week's recommended sodium intake or more calories than two meals combined. Restaurants that make it easy to order something a customized and health-conscious are ideal. This bucket list is a mix of both that has all around the city of Boston covered.

1. Whole Heart Provisions

vegetable, legume, corn, cereal, pepper, meat
Katie Zizmor

This Allston gem is every veggie lover's favorite place. With a fully vegan menu, it's easy to feel good about a filling meal that was packed with vegetables. The best part of this place is that their flavors are so different and eclectic. I've successfully brought all of my non-veggie-loving friends with me and have yet to find anyone with a complaint.

I get the Cassie Bowl and substitute chickpeas for broccoli. If I'm really trying to treat myself, I'll get their Seared Avocado or Matcha Lemonade on the side. 

2. Dig Inn

quinoa, avocado
Meredith Davin

A newer addition to Boston's trendy and wholesome food scene, Dig Inn is backed by a lot of community values as well as local farm support and seasonality. The menu changes based on what ingredients are in season. It's a great place for brunch or lunch and you can feel good about supporting your community with a couple servings of vegetables.

I get the The Harvest Bowl for breakfast or brunch. 

3. Lulu's Allston 

Lulu's is one of my favorite brunch spots because of the exciting twists on basic dishes that clutter your Instagram feed. It's usually super crowded (which is always a good sign) but it's definitely worth the wait. 

For brunch, I've gotten the Avocado Toast with the Fruit Loop "Overnight Oat" Jar as a sweet treat, but I've also gotten the Skillet Frittata. I haven't been for lunch or dinner, but the menus look incredible and I would probably choose the Thai Quinoa Black Bean Burger or the Roasted Turkey Sandwich without the bacon and mayo on the side. 

4. Life Alive

A photo posted by Life Alive (@lifealivecafe) on

This one is a bucket list spot. I have not been, but if I had $1 for every time someone I know said to me "I feel like you would love it here", I'd be able to put the meal on my tab for everyone.

I would get The Lover as a "demi" or half-portion, or The Goddess as a bowl with avocado as a side. 

5. Barcelona Wine Bar

Barcelona is one of my favorite restaurants in Boston, but this one is tricky because with tapas it's easy to overeat. Tapas are small plates but they're more filling than you'd think. This is a place to go for a celebration and a treat-yourself kind of night.

It's best to go with a small group and share dishes, aiming for one or two less than 2 tapas per person will be enough. The dishes come out as they're ready, so it's also totally acceptable to get one or two things and add onto the order later if you're still hungry. 

I get the Grilled Broccolini, Albondigas, Butternut Squash, Spinach-Chickpea Cazuela, and Spicy Eggplant Caponata. 

6. Dorado's Tacos

A quick stop for a bite to eat when you're in the mood for a taco or two. Dorado's was a summer favorite of mine, I'd sit outside and people watch while catching up with friends after work. The flavors are simple and familiar but they never disappoint. 

I get The Grilled Chicken, Mushroom, and Veggie Tacos.

7. Toscanini's Ice Cream

Here's where my philosophy on balance is super relevant. Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts, and there is no reason not to indulge sometimes with the best ice cream around. The line is worth the wait at Toscanini's and the ice cream is rich and always unique. I encourage you to try a flavor that you've never had elsewhere because there are so many to choose from.

I get the smallest size of Pink Grapefruit, Ginger Snap Molasses, or Green Tea. 

8. Masa

With an incredibly priced two-course brunch, Masa became a fan favorite for perfect mornings in the South End or as a final destination on a long run through the city. 

For the first course, I order either granola with yogurt or fresh seasonal fruits and Huevos Rancheros for my main course. The portion is usually too much for me to finish but for less than $10 it's an unbeatable deal. 

9. Quattro

At the foot of the North End, Quattro is one of my favorite places for a good slice of pizza. It's the perfect place to order 3 dishes for 4 people and share as it's another restaurant where portions can be deceiving. The ravioli may look like it's barely anything but it's so rich and flavorful you'll be full after just a few bites. 

Shared and split with others, the Exotic Mushroom Pizza and the Napoletana Pizza are my picks. 

10. The Paris Crêperie

chicken, salmon
Renzo De Jesus

The Paris Crêperie is a super small cafe in Coolidge Corner with quick turnover and endless options. The infused flavors into the crêpes themselves make the meal unique. Huge variety from sweet to savory confirms that there's a crêpe out there for every craving. 

The crêpes I choose are Yam-Wise, Storming of the Basil, or Smoked Salmon. 

11. Anna's Taqueria

A Boston favorite, Anna'a Taqueria is known for their unbelievable burritos. The burritos are HUGE though, so either go in with the mindset of putting aside half for lunch tomorrow, or get the super size and split with a friend. 

I get a Super Grilled Chicken Burrito with guacamole on the side, eating half for that meal and saving the other for tomorrow's lunch.

12. Panza

Panza is one of my family's favorite restaurants to go to when we're all together in Boston. Reservations are necessary, and going in with a mindful goal of eating slowly until full is best when being surrounded by incredible pasta. It's a restaurant worth trying for a special occasion or when family is in town. 

I get the Grilled Maple Mustard Glazed Salmon or the Chicken Panza, split with someone else or half is saved for the next day.  

13. Thornton's Fenway Grille

A perfect spot for brunch, lunch, or dinner, Thornton's has something for everyone. On the outskirts of Fenway Park, it's in a perfect location for an outdoor meal in nice weather before a Red Sox game or while meandering to Newbury Street. 

I get the Caddy Shack Eggs for brunch with a side of a grapefruit half. For lunch or dinner I get the Grilled Salmon or Veggie Pocket. 

14. Crema Cafe

Crema Cafe was one of the first places I went out to eat at when I got to college and it's right up my alley. The sandwiches and salads are composed of a few ingredients that you might see and say "what is that?" but chances are it's just a new kind of vegetable. Featuring jicama and other neat root vegetables, it's safe to say that this cafe is one of my favorites when I cross the river and head into Cambridge.

I get their Sweet Potato Sandwich. Who would have ever thought to put together sweet potato with avocado and green apple? 

15. South End Buttery 

Somehow I've managed to go to the cafe and the sit-down restaurant in one weekend, so that goes to show how I feel about this place. If you're looking for a quick but trendy breakfast, the cafe is a great stop for an iced coffee and quick bite. For a more warm and homey feel, wait for a table at the restaurant. 

At the cafe, I get the Breakfast Burrito and Avocado Toast #1, split with a friend. At the restaurant, it's Huevos Rancheros for brunch or their Chickpea Falafel Burger for lunch.

It's safe to say that I've explored the food scene around Boston quite a bit and have found ways to eat out and enjoy what I order with the stamp of nutritional approval. It's all about balance while being mindful of portion control.