Delicious, nutritious dining out
The key to eating out is making smart choices. By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can enjoy your favorite restaurants and still eat healthfully.
Family style and quick service restaurants
Load up on fresh vegetables at the salad bar. Dress salads with reduced-fat or fat-free dressings, lemon juice or vinegar. Limit amounts of higher fat items, such as prepared salads, eggs, cheese and croutons.
Top baked potatoes with reduced-fat or fat-free salad dressings, fresh vegetables, low-fat cheese or salsa.
On sandwiches, enjoy ketchup, mustard or reduced-fat or fat-free salad dressings more often than mayonnaise or special sauce.
Choose rolls, pita or whole grain bread more often than croissants or biscuits.
Choose vegetable toppings on pizza, and request half the normal amount of cheese be used.
Ask if your omelets can be prepared with egg whites, and stuff with plenty of fresh vegetables.
Choose grilled or sliced meat sandwiches more often than fried or breaded and deep-fried sandwiches.
Look for restaurants that offer "light" or "heart healthy" menu selections, or establishments that offer lower-fat options, such as vegetable pizzas, salad bars, broiled foods and low-fat milk.
Use syrup or preserves on pancakes, waffles and French toast and use less butter.
Look for words that indicate lower-fat preparation techniques: grilled, broiled, baked, roasted, steamed, poached. Be aware of those that signal higher-fat items: fried, creamed, buttery, pan-fried, sauteed, with gravy or hollandaise sauce, au gratin, Alfredo.
Don't be afraid to ask servers to prepare food with less added fat, and request lower-fat preparation methods be used.
Order sauces prepared with butter, cream or cheese on the side, and add sparingly.
Choose baked potatoes, plain noodles, steamed vegetables, green salads or fruit as side dishes.
If you order a salad with dressing on the side, use sparingly. The sauce boat contains two to three times the amount of dressing than would have been served on the salad.
For dessert, enjoy fresh fruit, fruit compote, low-fat frozen yogurt, sorbets, sherbets, ice-milk or angel food cake. If choosing a higher-fat dessert, get two spoons and share with someone else.
Choose skim or low-fat milk for coffee and lattes.
Portion sizes in most restaurants are large. Request half-portions, or ask for a doggy bag and take half home.
Basic ingredients such as corn, beans, tortillas and tomatoes are low in fat. However, extras such as cheese, sour cream and guacamole boost the fat content of Mexican meals to much higher levels. Sidestep or limit these extras, and watch out for fried tortilla shells and beans or other foods made with lard.
Some low-fat choices include salsa, gazpacho, red beans and rice, soft chicken tacos, refried beans (no lard), taco salad (minus the fried shell), arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), fajitas and burritos.
Many higher-fat selections lurk among the lower-fat fare. Go easy on stir-fries and sweet-and-sour dishes that contain deep-fried meats. Lemon chicken, for example, usually contains chicken that is first breaded and fried before being added to stir-fried vegetables.
Some low-fat choices include hot-and-sour soup, wonton soup, chicken chow mein, chicken or beef chop suey, mushu chicken, stir-fried meat with vegetables, velvet sauce, steamed rice and fortune cookies.
Low-fat dishes that feature vegetables and condiment-size portions of chicken, seafood and beef are staples at Japanese restaurants. Glazes and sauces are typically made with lean ingredients: broth, soy sauce (high in sodium), rice wine, sake. Limit tempura (battered and fried) foods.
Some low-fat choices include miso and bean soups, most combinations of grilled meats or seafood (such as scallops with oriental vegetables), teriyaki chicken, yosenabe, sukiyaki, udon (noodles), shabu shabu, steamed rice, rice noodles and green tea.
Think pasta with red sauce, instead of white (cream sauce), when dining Italian. Fried foods such as eggplant Parmesan are obvious fat sources. But large quantities of olive oil, cheese and fatty meats such as sausage and prosciutto can turn low-fat pastas into high-fat meals.
Some low-fat choices include minestrone, breadsticks, pasta with red clam sauce, pasta with marinara sauce, chicken or veal cacciatore, veal picata, Italian ices and skim cappuccino.
Almost a completely vegetarian cuisine, Indian meals favor vegetable combinations with lots of spice. Low-fat sauces made with yogurt often adorn chicken and vegetable entrees. Brown rice is predominantly featured. Limit dishes that feature coconut milk or cream. Remember that ghee is made from butter.
Some low-fat choices include lentil and chickpea curries, chicken and vegetables, chicken rice pilaf, basmati rice, raita (cucumber and yogurt sauce), naan (bread baked in a special tandoori oven) and fruit and vegetable chutneys.
Baptist East offers comprehensive services for people with heart disease. For more information, call the hospital's Information Center at (502) 897-8131.