Caeser Salad 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
From weekend brunch to your favorite Asian restaurant to that cute
French bistro down the street, navigating the menu can be a nightmare
when you want to eat healthy. Some people avoid restaurants entirely
when they are watching their weight or just want to eat “right," while
others repeatedly fall into the same unhealthy traps at restaurants.
However, with a few tricks, you can safely enjoy your favorite
Starting off on the right foot Avoid the bread basket:
Here are some basic tips on what to eat and what avoid when eating out:
doesn’t love the freshly baked bread basket that conveniently arrives
well before any of your food? When you eat out with other people,
you tend to pay less attention to what you are eating. As a result, you
are not really focused on how many dinner rolls you are consuming – and the
calories add up…quickly I might add.TIP:
If you are going to eat a
dinner roll – I suggest dipping it in some olive oil (avoid butter at
all cost). The olive oil will give you some added nutritional value, and
will also slow down your digestion, keeping you full longer.
A salad of misconceptions:
doesn’t love Caesar salad? While Caesar salad contains the word
salad, please don’t be fooled. The lettuce has no fat; however, this salad
is swimming in dressing, which unfortunately, though delicious, can
have as many calories as a plate of French fries and this is before you add the fried chicken bits, crouton and extra parmesan
Instead if you are ordering
a salad for a starter – opt for one with a low fat dressing. My personal suggestion is olive oil and lemon or olive oil and balsamic vinegar – which you can mix by
yourself to make sure you have only one tablespoon of olive oil.
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If salad is your main course, make sure to include a protein with it. I
have gone to “salad lunches" so many times with my girlfriends, because
they are either on a diet or just want to eat healthy. Time after time I
see them make the same mistakes. They skimp on a portion on chicken,
tofu or even meat because they are trying to cut down on calories.
However, protein is much more effective at keeping our bodies full than
carbohydrates and fats combined. Of course I suggest you choose a low fat
cut of meat – such as grilled or even blackened chicken (if you like
spicy). Tofu and fish are also great choices – but opt for the ones that
are not fried and coated in a buttery batter.
A brunch of mistakes
At brunch, that
extra large freshly squeezed orange juice is certainly very tempting.
While orange and grapefruit juices are filled with vitamin C, they are
also loaded with sugar. The next time you order an orange juice, take a
look and see how many oranges are being squeezed into your drink – I have
counted up to 12. Would you sit around your house and eat 12
oranges in a row?Cappuccino or Latte:
Most people need caffeine to function (I certainly do). But bear in mind that caffeine stimulates insulin
production, and therefore encourages your appetite – so try to limit
your coffee intake (if you can). TIP:
Also, many people love to finish off a
meal with a nice latte or cappuccino (again me included). Ask for skim or 1% milk.
While they contain the same amount of protein and vitamins as regular or
whole milk, they contain fewer calories and far less saturated or "bad" fat.
When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie...Mi Amore Pasta
When people are trying to watch their calorie intake, pasta is right up
there at the top of the “no no” list. Pasta has gotten a bad rep as
fattening or high in cholesterol when it fact it is low in both. The
problem with pasta is not the pasta, but rather the sauce and the
portion size. TIP: Choose your sauce wisely
A common misconception is that the calories from your pasta dish come
from the noodles – wrong as pasta has only 200 calories per cup. The
calories mostly come from the sauce. Sauces that contain a lot of cream
(such as fettuccine alfredo) and oil, contribute far more calories to a
pasta dish than the pasta does.
These sauces are also not very filling – and you tend to then eat more
of the pasta than you would have liked. Instead, opt for pasta with a
simple red sauce and that contains a protein such as grilled chicken or
even, my favorite, Bolognese sauce - the meat will fill you quicker,
causing you to keep the portion of pasta you eat in check. TIP: When in Rome...do as the Romans do
Portion size is a “big” problem when it comes to pasta, as restaurants tend
to overfill your plate with this inexpensive food rather than extra meat
or vegetables. In Italy, pasta is generally served as a side dish or as
one course of a many course meal (either the prima or the secondi piatti)- not in the large amounts that we see today. My suggestion is "sharing is caring," so the next time your having Italian, split the pasta dish with friends for your starter. If pasta is
your main course, a great trick is ask for penne instead of spaghetti, fettuccine or linguine as there were will actually be far less pasta on your plate. Also, go for the ravioli filled with cheese or a meat, which is
generally a smaller portion.
Don’t be blind to the “sides”
So you order a steak, a blacked chicken breast or grilled salmon – all
healthy options, but what does it come with? Even the “healthiest” meal
can be tainted by the accompanying side dish. Steamed Sea Bass draped
over mashed potatoes or a piece of grilled chicken next to a pile of
French fries are not the same as if they were served with steamed broccoli or
sautéed spinach . Most restaurants serve these dishes with a side of
“something”- and it is this “something” (i.e French fries, onion rings
and mashed potatoes) that alters the health balance of your entire meal.
Sweet potato instead of
regular potatoes – don’t be fooled by the word “sweet”, sweet potatoes
are among the healthiest foods around (packed with Vitamin A and C as
well as tones of fiber) and are surprisingly low is calories – less than
half that of regular “white” potatoes. Next week: Learn which ingredients to substitute in order to transform your favorite recipes into low-fat, low calories and healthy treats.
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