Healthy Restaurant Eating
This week, Tina takes a look at how to maintain a healthy diet while dining out.
Finding nutritious, low calorie food in restaurants can be difficult in a country peppered with fast food joints and overindulgence. How can you make the right choices when dining out?
We need whole foods for our nutrition more than from supplements. The challenge, then, is choosing tasty foods packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients while still keeping calories at a reasonable level. We've picked several restaurants in the Orland Park area to show how this can be done.
Italian and Mediterranean cuisine can be healthy, but is often high in calories, especially when customized for the American palate (think cheese-laden lasagnas and pizza). Choose a marinara sauce for a low calorie, power-packed superfood, such as the Shrimp Arrabiatta at Palermo's in Orland Park. This dish provides several powerful ingredients: walnuts for a healthy heart; shrimp, which is a low calorie source of protein; and cooked tomatoes.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that helps fight certain cancers, such as prostate. Our bodies have trouble absorbing lycopene from raw tomatoes, though. By cooking tomatoes and pairing them with a little bit of healthy fat, such as olive oil, you can maximize the amount of lycopene your body absorbs.
Men should eat cooked tomatoes twice a week to help fight prostate cancer.
Beans are full of fiber and a great low calorie protein source. They are also a main component of the DASH diet recommended by the American Heart Association to help reduce blood pressure and control hypertension.
Francesca's Fortunato in Frankfort features a deliciously healthy "Lenticchie & spinaci", warm lentil beans with spinach and goat cheese. Pair with a salad for a healthy, low calorie vegetarian meal. The lentil beans and spinach provide fiber and fight heart disease and cancer, while goat cheese is a good source of calcium and better tolerated than cow's milk.
Beans are also a healthy, low calorie alternative when eating Mexican food. Substituting black beans for meat, as in La Mex's Bean Tostada, can turn a dish high in calories and saturated fat into a healthy alternative.
Choose lean meats when dining out; beef contains saturated fat that is bad for the heart and has been linked to cancer. Saturated fat should make up no more than ten percent of our daily calories.
Bison is a healthy alternative to beef; this organic, free range meat contains one third the amount of saturated fat and is lower in calories. Try the Buffalo Burger at Hackney's in Palos Park. Or cook bison steaks at home on the grill; Czimer's Meats in Homer Glen, a butcher shop that specializes in exotic meats, carries all cuts of American bison.
Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body and fight cancer. Omega-3s are also beneficial for heart health and brain function. Orland Park's Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant has a Soy Ginger Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy. Many experts recommend eating two to three servings of salmon weekly. And unusual vegetables such as Bok Choy are interesting and provide a range of nutrients.
Incorporate lots of vegetables in a variety of colors into your meals for a bounty of nutrients and antioxidants, including squash, zucchini, swiss chard, and eggplant. Indian and Asian cuisines use a wide variety of vegetables, such as the Vegetable Jalfraize from the Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant in Orland Park.
While eating healthy doesn't always have to mean salads and fish, it does take some creative thinking. Many restaurants will also be glad to accommodate special requests to eliminate or change ingredients.