In this third edition of our “Eating Well While Eating Out” article, we provide you with some healthy eating tips should you decide to doll up, look extra pretty and head out to enjoy a sumptuous international cuisine.
Choose pasta with low-fat sauces such as marinara, red clam or white clam. Avoid alfredo and cream sauce, which contain loads of fat. when ordering a protein source with your pasta, avoid meatballs since they are an additional two to three ounces of meat each and may not be made with lean ground meat. Nibble from the antipasto plates sparingly — they are often loaded with fatty meats or include treats cooked with butter, margarine or oil. Minestrone soup is a good appetizer if made solely with vegetables, pasta or rice and seasonings.
They key to eating at Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants is simple: Avoid anything fried (which is a lot!). Bean burritos may contain refried beans made with lard or fat. Watch out for crispy tortillas and tostadas, which are usually deep-fried in lard or fat. Fajitas are a safe bet because the meat (chicken, beef or pork) is generally extra lean and boneless. Just beware of toppings like sour cream and cheese. Salsa is always an excellent add-in and goes well with rice and grilled dishes.
Chinese restaurants will usually steam any fish, meat or vegetables and cook without MSG at your request. Stir-fry dishes (chicken, beef, scallops, shrimp or tofu) can be healthy if a minimal amount of oil is used. Make sure chow mein dishes are stir-fried and not fried. Lo mein may be a better choice if prepared without oils. Just say no to Peking duck (usually coated with honey and white flour and then roasted), egg foo young (fried and contains a carbohydrate-rich source), fried dim sum and other deep-fried appetizers. Stick with steamed dishes such as steamed vegetable dumplings or steamed broccoli with tofu or chicken.
As with Mexican, avoid the fried dishes. Order salmon, albatross tuna or shrimp sushi as all are high in CLA. Chicken, beef or pork teriyaki are generally healthy choices, as are yakimono (broiled or grilled) fish and chicken. Avoid tempura and any dish with the word “atsu” — which often connotes deep-fried with batter—such as tonkatsu (deep-fried pork), torikatsu (deep-fried chicken) and katsudon (deep-fried pork, onion and poached egg).
The upside about French restaurants is that portion sizes are small. The downside? Most dishes are loaded with cream and cheese and can pack quite a wallop. Look for lighter fare prepared with wine or herbs, like bouillabaisse, poached salmon, coq au vin, Poulet aux fines herbes, ratatouille, steamed mussels and fish en papillote. Avoid processed foods such as sweetbreads, foie gras, quiche Lorraine and fondue.
If you do not mind extra amounts of spice, most Indian dishes are quite healthy. Just avoid curries made with coconut milk and parathas, a whole-wheat bread that is fried. Instead, stick with vegetable curries and naan, a baked flatbread made with wheat flour and sourdough. Dals, chapatis, biryanis, pilafs and tandoori chicken or fish are all healthy options as they contain vegetables and wheat flour.
Middle Eastern Or Greek
Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants are great places to order lamb because lean, marinated cuts are necessary for most dishes. Shish kebabs, pilafs and couscous are low fat, well-seasoned choices for proteins and grains. Watch out for dishes with feta cheese or nuts as the fat can quickly add up. If you are sensitive to sodium or have high blood pressure, it is worth noting that many Middle Eastern dishes are high in salt.
What To Avoid
If you have read the previous edition of this article, you would already be familiar with what to look out for when dining out. This time around, allow us to highlight the term to avoid the next time you place your meal order.
To caramelize the surface sugars of food by applying heat, invariably through a dry-heat cooking method.
A dry-heat cooking method where food (usually coated in batter or breading) is submerged in a vat of hot fat.
A dry-heat cooking method in which foods are cooked in a layer of hot fat — includes sautéing, stir frying, pan frying and deep frying.
Food that has been coated with a glaze or sauce before or after it has been cooked.
A dry-heat cooking method in which the food is placed in a moderate amount of hot fat.
Mayonnaise-based sauce flavoured with mustard, capers, chopped gherkins, herbs and anchovies. Usually served with cold shellfish, fish or meat.
A dry-heat cooking method that transfers heat from a hot pan to food with the aid of a small amount of hot fat, cooking is usually done quickly over high temperatures, so food should be sliced thin and should be tender.
To fill a cavity of an ingredient with another food. This allows the filling to gain taste from the food into which it has been stuffed.