Dining out is always a taste bud tempting luxury and something to look forward to when you don't feel like whipping up something at home or cruising past the fast food drive-through. From family-friendly establishments to fine dining restaurants, menus usually have a range of items from the super-healthy to the truly indulgent.
If you're watching your diet or are the health-minded type, dining out can often times become a challenge when you don't know what's in your food, such as fat count, calories, or other additives or ingredients you may not want to consume.
Regardless of the venue, type of cuisine, or price point there's always a way to eat more healthfully when dining out. Follow these tips to ensure whatever you order is to your liking, be it taste-wise or in this case, health-wise.
Most restaurants will hear your concerns and ask the chef to prepare your dishes to your specifications. Any professional dining establishment understands that people have food concerns while dining out and they should cater to your requests within reason. And a seasoned chef can make it still taste great.
Here are a few easy ways to boost the health factor of your meal the next time you choose to go out to your favorite restaurant. Certainly the food will still be just as delicious but far more nutritious. You'll look forward to meeting friends for dinner, going out on a hot date, or using that extra money you saved to reward yourself for your hard work.
1. Hold the Butter
One of the reasons restaurant-prepared food tastes so darn delicious is because there's lots of added butter and oil plopped in each and every dish where you wouldn't normally add them at home. As per Uexpress, "Many menu items contain hidden butter and salt. Ask your server how a meal is prepared before you order. If something is typically prepared in butter, ask for it to be steamed or broiled without added butter, or sauteed in olive oil instead."
The rich taste and sensuous mouth feel of butter makes the meal more satisfying, tastier, and more decadent with each bite. But with each of those mouthfuls comes lots of added calories you simply don't need in your meal or your body. You can ask your waiter to tell the chef to hold any extra butters, oils, or fats from your meal. You'll still get a professionally cooked dish with far fewer calories and fat and feel just a satisfied. Add a dash of pepper and salt if you feel like you were missing some of the flavor due to the elimination of these butters and oils and you're all set with a much more health-wise meal.
2. Order Baked or Poached
Steer clear from anything that's marked "fried" on the menu. Instead, look for the dishes that are baked or poached to save yourself calories while still getting delicious taste. While frying, the cook will have to use lots of oil in order to get that crispy finish that comes with a fried piece of food. If you're not sure how the dish is prepared, simply ask the waiter to find out if he doesn't know himself. Nowadays, people have all sorts of requests at restaurants, so this simple question should be nothing as far as difficulty for the staff. Steer clear from words like sautéed, fried, deep-fried, crispy, tempura, and similar words that mean lots of oil is guaranteed to be part of the meal. Baking and poaching can be achieved virtually fat free and when prepared well via a well-trained chef, will taste juicy, delicious, and just as satisfying as something fried.
All Recipes suggests ordering poached fish. "This gentle cooking method is perfect for seafood. Poaching keeps fish moist and won't mask the delicate flavor of the fish." Who needs all that grease when the fresh flavor can shine?
3. Ditch the Cream
Rich and creamy dips, sauces, desserts, toppings, and fillings are obviously ever so delicious but should be eaten in moderation if you're seeking a healthy diet, especially while dining out. The calorie count will explode with every dollop of cream added to the meal. Restaurant portions are already way too large and you'll be ingesting so much cream, fat, calories, and possible artery clogging ingredients that your body simply doesn't need. Go for vegetable broth-based soups, vinaigrette dressings, skim milk in deserts, and pasta sauces that are tomato-based. You may miss that creamy texture for a while but you'll realize how much fresher and healthier forgoing cream can be. You'll be able to actually eat more when you don't pile on this unnecessary topping and filler. Indulge once in a while in a scoop of your favorite ice cream or a plate of fettuccini Alfredo and you'll realize just how rich they will taste.
Lots of chain restaurants have a special menu section featuring lighter fare or mark the menu items which are more heart-healthy, low in fat, etc. Check out Healthy Dining Finder for some healthy options. Additionally, it's wise to look up a restaurant's menu online before going out so you can pre-plan some options and don't get tempted by unhealthier choices once you get there.