How You Can Eat Heart-Healthy Food While Eating Out – What to enjoy, what to avoid

Eating out doesn’t have to mean consuming foods that contribute to heart disease. Recently Men’s Health magazine Editor Peter Moore discussed healthy options in three different types of cuisines, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese, and talked about menu “warning” words that can hint at unhealthy choices, and menu “friends” that could point to the opposite on a CBS Program. I though you’d benefit from his advice.

More Information:

Here’s the information, courtesy of CBS News:

Menu Warning Signs: Clues that might translate into un-healthy choices 

  • Smothered That usually means a blanket of cheese! 
  • Stuffed 
  • Buttery or creamy. You think luscious, but you should be thinking fattening! 
  • Crispy, crunchy means FRIED. 
  • Served in an edible bowl! Never a good idea to eat the plate. 
  • Secret sauce: It’s usually 80 percent mayonnaise and 20 percent ketchup, usually with a smattering of chopped pickles thrown in. You can replace it with decidedly less-secretive barbecue sauce and save 100 calories. 
  • Caesar: It’s not worth hailing; a fat and fat combo, sticking to all surfaces of rippled lettuce. That’s the birth of the 1,000 calorie salad. 
  • Thick crust: It can double the calories over thin. 

Menu Friends: Tips that might mean a healthy choice 

  • Blackened: Flavor comes from spices, not fat. 
  • Grilled. It’s usually the leanest form of cookery; high heat, high taste, low fat. 
  • Manhattan Style is tomato and broth, rather than butter and cream. 
  • Poached: Steaming is another high flavor, low cal cooking technique. 
  • Grass-fed means the steer is eating well, so you’ll receive a big dose of heart healthy Omega-3’s. 

CUISINE-SPECIFIC TIPS 

Italian 

  • Great starters abound at Italian restaurants 
  • Ask your server to hold any cheese or creamy spread, you won’t miss it. 
  • Bruschetta is a great choice, since it’s loaded with chopped tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil. The crunchy hunks of grilled bread are a great choice at less than 200 calories per serving. 
  • Pizzaiola is a great choice for an entrée. It’s like chicken Parmesan, minus the excess calories. It typically comes grilled or sautéed with a marinara sauce that has peppers and mushrooms. It saves a few hundred calories from the “Parm” version and packs in an extra serving of vegetables. 

Italian menu items to avoid: 

  • Parmesan: The fastest way to ruin a lean protein or defenseless vegetable? Bread it, fry it, and smother it. An eggplant alone only has 60 calories, but by the time it’s done getting parm-ed. it has 1,000 calories and 68 grams of fat. 
  • Alfredo: Butter, cream, and cheese on the pasta amount to 860 calories and 45 grams per two-cup serving. 
  • White pizza: This kind of pizza lacks marinara sauce, which is low-cal and is packed with vitamins. White pizza may pack more cheese, racking up the calories higher. 
  • Pizza toppings to avoid: pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, and extra cheese. 

Chinese 

  • Start your meal at Chinese restaurants with soup, either egg drop or hot and sour. They each have only 70 calories per cup and will help curb the ravenous hunger that leads to overeating. 
  • Opt for steamed! Seek out steamed entrees and make sure at least one item has that word in the name or menu description for a balanced meal. 
  • Beware of rice! A single portion can cost you 300 calories. Order brown rice, but remember it won’t save you calories, fat, or carbohydrates, though it will give you an extra boost of fiber and protein, which will work to boost your metabolism and keep you feeling full. 
  • Fortune Cookies are the most innocuous desserts you’ll find in ANY restaurant. Each little cookie has a mere 40 calories. 
  • Use chop sticks! Having to work for your food gives your stomach more time to deliver the “I’m full” message to your brain. 

Chinese items to avoid: 

  • Sesame/Orange/General Tso’s: Each one is fried, then covered, vegetable-less, with gloppy sugar-laden sauces almost indistinguishable from each other. The damage: about 1,300 calories and 70 grams of fat. 
  • Lo mein: The noodles are wok-fried with an abundance of oil, then speckled with fatty pork or beef. Even ordering the vegetable version won’t undo the wrong wrought by this dish. 
  • Entrees: At over a pound (and usually 1,000+ calories) per order, these heaping plates and overstuffed cartons are really meant to serve two. If it’s variety you seek, order one per person, but ask them to bring half out and box the other half for lunch tomorrow. 

Mexican 

  • Start with guacamole. Avocados are high in fat, but it’s the monounsaturated kind, so it’s good for your heart! 
  • Bean Burrito. Ask about the type of beans that will be used in the burrito. If they’re whole, this could be the healthiest think on the menu! The fiber in beans lowers cholesterol and helps make you feel full. If they’re refried, steer clear and head for a chicken burrito. 

Mexican items to avoid: 

  • Enchiladas: Typically, these tortillas are dipped in hot fat, stuffed, rolled, covered with sauce and cheese and baked. When topped with sour cream, two of them carry 748 calories, 55 percent of which comes from fat. 
  • Taco salad: It’s a huge fried tortilla shell with ground beef, cheese, sour cream and a few token shreds of iceberg lettuce. The result: 900 calories, 55 grams of fat, and perhaps the most liberal use of the word “salad” ever. 
  • Hard shell tortillas: Opt for soft flour tortillas when you can, as they are slightly lower in fat than the hard shell ones. 

Desserts 

  • Gelato: Unlike most American ice creams, which are made with heavy cream, gelato is made with milk, making a scoop a relatively low-impact indulgence. 
  • Chocolate Fondue: By serving fruit with chocolate, you are in some ways counteracting the damage done by the sweets. 

Desserts to avoid: 

  • Crème brulee: egg yolks, heavy cream and sugar. Split or opt for a fruit-filled crepe. 
  • Pecan pie: 678 calories, 51 g fat. Opt for pumpkin or blueberry.

 

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