For the past few years my friend Mindy Mylrea has been a whole foods, plant-based eater so when she suggested that we eat at the Cheesecake Factory of all places I was a bit shocked to say the least. I trust her judgement, however, so I willingly stepped inside to see what this restaurant known for it’s incredibly unhealthy calorie bombs had to offer. What I learned amazed me! When we walked in the place was packed so we quickly decided a seat at the bar was going to have to do. We sat down and immediately got a look of disdain from the bartender because we were going to take up his bar seats eating a meal which was way more work for him! Furthermore, we were going to be difficult because of my multiple food allergies and Mindy’s whole foods plant-based diet. The first lesson I learned was how to win the bartender over. In a matter of minutes Mindy won him over by explaining our requests and enlisting him to help us instead of apologizing for it. When you smile and treat the wait staff with respect it’s very hard for them to be mad at you. I can’t tell you how many times he asked if we were satisfied with our meals. His body language when we sat down was a bit hostile and off-putting but 5 minutes into our dining experience Mindy had him smiling and going out of his way to help us! Lesson two came when we opened the menu. The last time I remember going to The Cheesecake Factory was a few years ago and all I recall is a lot of really unhealthy choices. Even the salads weren’t that great! What I found this time was a plethora of amazing choices! There is a super foods section that has amazing salads, veggie burgers and avocado toast not to mention you can get vegetable sides (hold the oil please) that are all delicious! Who would have guessed? There are chain restaurants out there that have not gotten the memo about how drastically our food is affecting our health but the Cheesecake Factory certainly has! I rarely go out anymore because it is so difficult to find good healthy choices but Mindy taught me that I just have to ask and not be apologetic for my requests! What a gift it was to have a wonderful meal with an amazing friend and mentor and learn great lessons all at the same time. Life is good!