Finding Healthy Food in Typically Non-healthy Cuisines
We like to eat out. Either we don’t like to bring leftovers to work or we just like having someone else cook for us. Having a hamburger on the go, a quick quiche for breakfast or some nachos at happy hour are food pleasures that are hard to resist.
Recently, the USDA’s Economic Research Service published that Americans eating away from home were associated with a 134-K calorie increase in daily energy intake. The extra calories varied according to the meals, with lunches highest at 158, followed by dinners 144 and breakfast 74. Also, when people eat out they tend to have less produce, dairy and whole grain food overall.
If shunning pasta Alfredo and enchiladas just makes you want to have more of it, just be smart so that you don’t sabotage your weight efforts. You can still enjoy rich flavors without having to add unnecessary fats, sodium and refined carbohydrates.
Erin Macdonald, R.D, nutrition, fitness and wellness coach, founder of www.urockgirl.com gives us the dos and don’ts from a variety of cuisine types.
Dos: Stick with lean and clean protein such as grilled, baked, broiled, or poached fish, shellfish, and chicken. Look for vegetables that are steamed, grilled, or stir-fried. For starches, look for soba (buckwheat) noodles, brown rice, baked sweet potatoes, baked russet or yukon gold potatoes (leave off the high calorie/fat butter and sour cream) and/or butternut squash.
With sandwiches, opt for turkey or chicken breast on whole grain bread with plenty of vegetables (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, pickles, bell peppers), and mustard and vinegar; skip the cheese, oil, salt and pepper. At finer dining establishments, choose grilled fish and vegetables. If you go for the burger, have it without the bun and add plenty of vegetables. Hold the mayo or other creamy dressings though.
Don’ts: meatloaf and mashed potatoes, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, chicken wings, fries, onion rings, bread basket, anything fried (chicken, fish), cheese sauces, cream sauces
Dos: In Italy, pasta is treated as a side dish rather than a main course. Try choosing a piece of fish or chicken (baked, broiled, grilled, poached, or steamed) and ask for a size of steamed vegetables and a small amount of pasta with marinara sauce (about the size of your fist). Keeping the portions of high-calorie items smaller allows you to enjoy them without going overboard. Favorite dish: cioppino, minestrone soup, pasta fagiole (with beans), marinara sauce.
Don’ts: pasta Alfredo, ravioli, cannoli, lasagna, creamy dressings.
Dos: Food that has been prepared grilled (asada) or baked (horneada) are actually very good for you. Best dishes include ceviche, black beans, rice, grilled chicken tacos (in soft corn tortilla), salsa, guacamole (healthy fats), grilled fish/fish tacos (not battered and fried), fajitas (chicken or shrimp) and ask for corn tortillas instead of flour, tortilla soup. Healthy eating tips: ask for any burrito to be served “naked,” which means without the tortilla and leave off the cheese and sour cream; leaving you with lots of vegetables, protein (chicken, shrimp, fish, beans) and plenty of salsa or pico de gallo and a dollop of guacamole.
Don’ts: Leave off the high fat/calorie toppings, like sour cream and cheese, and walk away from anything fried (taquitos, flautas, chips), and the overstuffed, giant burritos. Others to avoid: nachos, quesadilla, monster/stuffed burritos, chips, sour cream, cheese, taquitos, flautas, chimichanga and enchiladas.
Dos: The reason why most French people stay so slim is that they eat very small portions, linger over their meals (allowing them to enjoy the food and dining experience), and they get plenty of activity. Ask for fish or chicken to be prepared poached in wine with herbs and vegetables to be prepared steamed. Stay away from the bread and butter. Limit the excellent wine to one glass. Best choices: boulliabase, cassoulet, coq a vin, ratatoiulle, mussels in wine. If you enjoy onion soup, ask for it without the cheese and bread on top and just eat the onion and broth.
Don’ts: foie gras, quiche, pastries, desserts, vichyssoise, langoustine en croute (lobster in puff pastry), croque monsieur (egg-dipped fried ham-and-egg sandwich), veal Prince Orloff (veal roast stuffed with rice, onions and mushrooms), pommes Anna (upside-down potato cakes), crepes Suzette (crepes with orange butter and orange liqueur, served flambeed), frites (fries)
In your kitchen
When cooking at home, the list of forbidden dishes get smaller and this is because you are in control so there are many ingredients that you can substitute and still savoring a meatloaf.
If this is what you crave, go ahead and make it yourself! This way, you’ll never feel deprived.
Recipe by Erin Macdonald
1 ½ lbs. ground turkey breast
? cup egg substitute
2 tbs. whole-wheat matzo meal
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs. Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce (or your favorite)
? onion, minced
1 zucchini, minced
6-8 mushrooms, minced
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1. In a large nonstick skillet that has been coated in cooking spray and heated over medium-high heat, sauté the vegetables 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and cool completely.
2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, egg substitute, matzo meal, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning, and BBQ sauce. Add the cooked vegetables and mix thoroughly.
3. Place mixture onto a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil. Form into one large meatloaf, about 7×12 x 1.5 inches; top with ketchup. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before slicing.
Alternatives; Scoop mixture into muffin tins (makes 12). Top each mini-meatloaf with a teaspoon of BBQ sauce. Place in oven (350 F) for 30 minutes.
Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning, coach and master trainer who is an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website martamontenegro.com, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.
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