Eating Out Healthy: Speaking with Nutritionists about Smarter Cuisine and Menu Choices

Avoid devastatingly caloric and über-fatty menu items and instead learn how to order healthier choices



Five Healthy Dining-Out Tips

The Five Healthiest Cuisines

If you’re a foodie transfixed by a chef’s creations and not paying attention to what the hand-sewn cavatelli with garlic-infused reserve oil really means calorie-wise, you may be veering dangerously into unhealthy territory.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to watch what we eat when dining out. Why? Because we dine out—a lot. According to a 2006 US Department of Agriculture report titled “Let’s Eat Out,” Americans now get a whopping 32 percent of their daily calories from restaurant food—up from just 18 percent in the 1970s. 

“When we eat out, we don’t know what’s being put into the food. We don’t know what the portion sizes will be,” says Rye Brook-based Registered Dietitian Rachel Begun, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That’s where it becomes a tougher challenge to keep within your budget of calories, she says. 

We’ve done some of the sleuthing by cuisine type so you can make the best choices with your health in mind. So, the next time you sit down to enjoy a meal, you can feel both well fed and well informed. 

CUISINE RESTAURANT CALORIE
BUSTERS
HEALTHER
SELECTIONS
DIETICIAN/
NUTRITIONIST
RACHEL
BEGUN SAYS:
Mexican

Lola’s Mexican Kitchen
(169 E Post Rd
White Plains 

914-358-4939
lolaswhite plains.com) 

Steak Burrito—flour tortilla stuffed with sirloin, Mexican rice, sliced avocado, melted cheese, and black beans; topped with sour cream

Chimichanga—deep-fried tortilla stuffed with sirloin, Mexican rice, peppers, onions, melted cheese, and black beans; topped with sour cream

Vegetarian Tacos—grilled zucchini, summer squash, peppers and onions, rice and beans, queso fresco

Pescado Veracruzana—sautéed fish of the day cooked in a Veracruz sauce (garlic, tomatoes, sweet peppers, olives, and capers)

“There are a lot of ingredients going on in a burrito; so many, in fact, that you can easily leave off the cheese or sour cream.”

Chinese

David Chen’s
(85 Old Mount Kisco Rd, 
Armonk
914-273-6767
davidchens.com)

Peking Pork—deep-fried pork steak sautéed in Peking sauce with broccoli, snow peas, celery, and red pepper

General Tso’s Chicken—chunks of deep-fried chicken with spicy sauce

Lettuce Beef—shredded beef, shredded celery, carrots, snow peas, onions, and scallions in light brown sauce, wrapped in lettuce

Salt and Pepper Shrimp—tailless shrimp sautéed with salt and pepper

“Ask for the chef to prepare the Peking pork/General Tso’s dishes with less oil; request sauce on the side.”
Japanese

Tengda Asian Bistro 
(56 Garth Rd, Scarsdale 
914-723-8868
asianbistrogroup.com)

King Crab Phoenix Roll—shrimp tempura topped with spicy king crab, honey, and wasabi sauce

Stir-Fried Udon Noodle—vegetable, chicken, beef, or shrimp

Tekka Don—sliced raw tuna on a bed of seasoned rice

Wok Basil Shrimp and Scallop—basil, shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, mild herb sauce

“Sushi is usually a healthy option, but calories can really add up, especially when you have specialty rolls like the King Crab Phoenix. Look for rolls with more vegetables and a minimal amount of sauce.”
Italian

Rosie’s Bistro Italiano 
(10 Palmer Ave, Bronxville 
914-793-2000
rosiesbronxville.com)

Penne Russa—vodka, prosciutto, and peas in a pink sauce

Vitello Parmigiana—veal (or chicken), breaded, baked with tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella, with spinach Siciliana

Pasta Carlino—penne with chicken, sun-dried tomato sauce, Kalamata olives, pignoli, and arugula

Salmone della Casa—grilled salmon filet with fresh dill and Mediterranean spinach

“Make sure to monitor your portion size; pasta dishes can be very large. ‘Pink’ sauce often means cream has been added; request a smaller serving of sauce. ‘Parmigiana’ is usually smothered in cheese, which is caloric and salty. Ask the chef to go light on the cheese.”
Barbecue

Memphis Mae’s
BBQ Restaurant
 
(173 S Riverside Ave,
Croton-on-Hudson
914-271-0125
memphismaes.com) 

Texas Chicken Fried Steak—rib-eye steak, flattened, floured, and fried, and served with country cream gravy

Southern Fried Chicken—boneless chicken breast, battered and fried and served with chicken gravy

Grilled Mississippi Catfish

Mae’s Salad—(mixed fresh baby greens and house-smoked corn salad) with smoked portobello mushroom and grilled vegetables, choice of house-made ranch or vinaigrette dressings and served with Tennessee buttermilk cornbread

“Ask for country gravy on the side—but use sparingly! Or, ask the chef to skip the gravy and season the dish with hot sauce, which adds fire and flavor.

For the Mae’s Salad, vinaigrette is the dressing to choose as it has fewer calories and is healthier than ranch, which contains buttermilk.”

Burgers

Westchester Burger Co. 
(106 Westchester Ave,
White Plains
914-358-9399

also in Rye Brook and
Mount Kisco
westchesterburger.com)

Tex-Mex Burger—8-oz burger with guacamole, salsa, pickled onion, queso fresco, and fried tortilla pieces on a brioche bun

The Entourage—10-oz burger between two Texas Toast grilled cheeses

The Greenhouse—
8-oz veggie patty, guacamole, frisée, frizzled onions, and balsamic-tarragon vinaigrette on a multigrain bun

“Judge”  Warren Burger—8-oz bunless, wrapped in red leaf lettuce with tomato, red onion, and horseradish pickles

“For The Entourage, remove one grilled-cheese layer and order with just one slice of cheese; you can still get the same flavor with a lot less calories.

Portion size on a burger (whether veggie or meat), should only be 3 to 4 ounces—the size of a deck of cards.”

Salad Joints

Chop’t
(116 Ridge St 
Rye Brook 
914-908-4184
choptsalad.com)

Cobb Salad—FreeBird grilled chicken, avocado, smoked bacon, hard-boiled egg, crumbled blue cheese, and tomato chopped with romaine lettuce

Chop’t Po’ Boy Salad—FreeBird panko fried chicken, tomato, red onion, and white cheddar cheese chopped with romaine lettuce

Palm Beach Salad with Shrimp—shrimp, avocado, tomato, cucumber, and hearts of palm chopped with romaine lettuce

Modern Asian Salad with Tofu—edamame, pickled broccoli and carrot slaw, crispy Chinese noodles, and slivered almonds chopped with spinach and romaine lettuce

“The Cobb Salad has four sources of protein—more than you need [which is 3 to 4 ounces]. Go light on the blue cheese.”

 

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