Good Food Blog
Healthy restaurant choicesPosted at 12:02PM, 06 June 2012 by Roxanne Fisher - Writer/Sub-editor, bbcgoodfood.com
We all deserve an indulgence from time-to-time, but if you're trying to keep your healthy eating plan on track, dining out can be tough. Our healthy takeaway tips have helped you avoid some classic calorie-laden dishes, but what lurks in that seemingly smug salad or angelic dessert at your favourite restaurant?
A few years ago, healthy disciples discovered there were more calories in a particular salad at a popular restaurant chain than in one of their hefty pizzas. The horror! All this time we believed we were making the healthy choice when really diet-disasters clung to our innocent forks. We've since clued up, and while it's difficult for so much as a drop of devilish salad dressing to accidentally make it past our lips, it's worth bearing in mind the following points if you want to avoid over-indulging when eating out...
Before you virtuously opt for lighter leaves be sure that's what you're getting. Common salad sinners are easy to overlook...
Too much salt - popular ingredients like olives, feta and anchovies are high in salt as are many salad dressings. A common complaint of excessive salt consumption is high blood pressure and so if this is a concern for you it's best to limit yourself to one of these favourite toppings and stick to a splash of olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
Side of fried - choose a side of brown bread and a topping of grilled chicken rather than crunchy croutons and greasy bacon. The latter will have typically been fried in lashings of oil, adding fat and calories to your otherwise lithe supper.
Good fat, bad fat - a helping of unsaturated fats like avocado, nuts and seeds will give your dish some serious healthy credentials - as long as you enjoy in moderation.
Learning the lingo
Getting to grips with terminology used on restaurant menus will ensure you make an informed choice when ordering:
Crispy - an almost cert that your food has been submerged in oil and fried - crispy prawns, crispy duck, crispy anything is best avoided if you're on a virtuous path.
Crusted - one to watch this. If in doubt ask how you're crusted fish/chicken/lamb has been prepared. If the meat has been doused in oil to help the crumbs stick you may want to think twice.
Confit - the French term may ring bells of delectable dining but this cooking technique will gastronomically increase the fat content of your food. Seasoned meat cooked slowly and submerged in its own rendered fat may taste nice, but save for special occasions.
Sometimes it's impossible to resist. While salted caramel chocolate tort is unlikely to be anything other than an indulgence, be wary of the so-called 'healthy' option too:
Ice cream - fruit and ice cream may very well seem like a safe option... so long as the cold stuff hasn't been made with lashings of double cream and sugar. Comparing the nutritional information of our indulgent raspberry ripple and healthier vanilla ice creams is a bit of an eye opener.
Cheesecake - just because it's described as 'light' it doesn't mean it's low in fat. Baked cheesecakes made with full-fat cream cheese (or even multiple types of soft cheeses) tend to be the most devilish.
Still unsure? Save pud till you get home to be certain of how good (or bad) you're being. Try our desserts that come in at under 200 calories and are ready in just five minutes next time you need a sweet fix.