Navigate the Unknown

I love to eat in restaurants, but it’s a bit tricky to select a meal that’s delicious and doesn’t break the fat bank.

Menus can be a minefield. It’s easy to find the obvious hazards—sour cream on the potato or prime rib—but there are often other hidden traps. A side of fresh mixed vegetables may look delicious and healthy, but there’s usually a telltale luster. When vegetables look “sparkly”— as my daughter used to say when she was small—it’s usually a sign that the chef has added gobs of butter or oil.

If you’re dining in a casual restaurant, a salad bar can be a good option when you’re looking for veggies, especially because you’re making your own salad.  Pass on mixed salads, croutons and shredded cheese. If you load your plate with spinach, lettuce, and other fresh vegetables and drizzle them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, you can reduce the hidden fats. My husband also has found single-serving containers of heart-healthy spread with the bread on the salad bar, so he orders a baked potato with no topping and brings spread from the salad bar to the table, where he can add it very sparingly to his potato.

Grilled fish also may not be what you expect. Although salmon grilled at home can be heart-healthy, like the vegetables, restaurant fish also tends to have a “sparkly” sheen. For a healthier version, request that the chef use as little oil as possible during grilling and serve sauces on the side.

Dining out should be relaxing.  By choosing carefully, you can enjoy a delicious meal without the guilt.

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