Making Better Restaurant Choices
In today’s fast paced world, families are often eating out 2 to 3 times or more a week. Many young singles and couples rely solely on take away and restaurant meals for both lunch and dinner on a daily bases. With this ‘eating out of the home’ schedule many people are going to miss out valuable nutrients if restaurants and take away chains don’t offer healthier options with a higher portion of vegetables and salads.
Restaurant main meals are often served with a protein and carbohydrate portion, such as steak and potato, or chicken pasta. Vegetables are usually only added as a side order and are billed separately.
Lets face it, we all love to eat out, and if you are able to do it often, then why not? So how can we start to make healthier choices when we eat out? How can we make sure our dining out occasions supply us with a lean, healthy meal that supplies a variety of important vitamins and nutrients? Making wise menu choices is just a start, but the key is choosing the right place to eat. If you eat out regularly, make sure you vary the restaurant or take out venue. Here is a list of great restaurant and take out ideas that will help you keep a healthy ‘dining out’ lifestyle.
Vary Your Cuisine
Varying the cuisine will help to ensure you consume a range of nutrients, as each cuisine will highlight different food groups.
This cuisine is a great way to get vegetables into the diet. Most Asian style cuisines include vegetables in their main meal options. To ensure a low fat choice, look for main meals that are stir fried. Choose those that do not contain creamy sauces or use the words ‘fried’, ‘battered’ or ‘sautéed’. Make sure the dish contains vegetables, and if not, ask them to add some. A good choice would be something like a Thai basil beef with vegetables and rice.
Indian food can be both very healthy and not so healthy, depending on the choices you make. Choose a curry that is tomato or spice based, not cream based, to reduce the fat content. Choose lean meats such as chicken and lean beef. Most curried will not come with vegetables, so search the menu for any that do, or ask them to be added. Watch out for vegetable dishes that are high in fat. A good choice is Dahl. Avoid Nann breads by having curry with saffron rice.
Italian can also be hit and miss on the healthy scale. Portions are often very large, and contain a large carbohydrate and protein portion with little else. Avoid creamy pastas and meats with added fats, such as pan fired schnitzels and Italian sausages. Many Italian restaurants will offer meat and vegetable options, such as grilled chicken with potato and seasonal vegetables. They also offer great salad with chicken and seafood. If you choose pasta, ask for an entrée size with a tomato based sauce. Look for pastas that include some vegetables. For pizzas, look for lean meat options such as chicken or seafood. Choose pizzas with vegetables in the topping, or ask for extra mushrooms and capsicum. Order a small size pizza, and ask for a small amount of cheese. Share a serve.
Pub Style Meals
There are always good and bad options here. Look for the grilled meat options; they often come with a salad and potato. Ask for baked potato instead of roasted. Fish meals are often good choices, as they will also come with salad. Avoid fried meals, or those that contain added fats such as creams and heavy sauces. If you order steak, ask for a baked potato and salad instead of chips. Always ask if they offer vegetables on the plate. If there is a salad bar, avoid those salads with heavy dressings.
There are many take away options, so don’t just think fast food. Most casual dining restaurants will have a take away menu, especially Thai, Asian, Indian and Italian restaurants. Choosing these options over fast food will definitely get you on the right track to increasing your nutrient intake.
If it is fast food, think lean meats with both carbohydrate and vegetable portions. Places such as Wok in a Box, Subway, Nando’s or Pasta Cup will offer such meals; just use the information above to make healthier choices. Many places such as these also highlight the healthy options on their menu. They may be highlighted as ‘healthy choices’, ‘skinny options’, ‘low fat menu’ etc. These will always be the better choices, just make sure they include some vegetables or salad, and if not, just ask for some.
If all else fails and you choose traditional fast foods, there are still some options better than others. Mc Donald’s have their well advertised healthy choice menu. If choosing their salads, don’t use the dressing. Avoid having French fries with the healthy burger option that just turns a good choice into a bad one. If you feel like chicken, Red Rooster is the best choice. They offer skin free chicken burgers, roll sand wraps, and they also have vegetable portions on their menu. Unfortunately places such as Hungry Jacks and Chicken Treat offer little in the way of healthier choices. Remember, NEVER upsize, down size and share!
Added to site on : Tuesday, 23 March 2010