Can you have fun on a date and still be true to your diet. Absolutely!
When it’s Asian fare you crave, start the meal with soup and resist high-fat appetizers like fried wontons and egg rolls. Substitute steamed rice, or preferably brown rice, for crispy noodles, which are fried in fat. For an entree, focus on fresh ingredients like vegetables and avoid any menu choices described as “crispy,” “deep-fried,” “golden brown,” or “sweet and sour.” Moo Goo Gai Pan and Vegetarian’s Delight are both delicious low-cal options.
- Eat It: Steamed rice and veggies, no-oil stir-fries, broth-based soups.
- Delete It: Deep-fried foods, Egg Foo Young, fried rice, lo mein.
When you’re pining for pizza, opt for the thin-crust kind with reduced-fat cheeses, and load it up with fresh vegetables. Plan on eating only 2 to 3 medium-sized slices after a big green salad. If you’re in the mood for pasta, the best topping choices are marinara, primavera, Bolognese, or red or white clam sauce. Avoid sauces with bases of oil, cream, butter, cheese, sausage, or bacon (that includes pancetta). For a light and healthy entree, consider chicken cacciatore.
- Eat It: Marinara or marsala sauces, minestrone soup, chicken cacciatore, veggie pizza.
- Delete It: Alfredo sauces, sausage, bacon, risotto, lasagna.
In the mood for Mexican, Caribbean, South American, or Spanish cuisine? Focus on vegetables and opt for lard-free bean-based dishes rather than beef or cheese. Avoid any entree’s containing the word “grande” (the Spanish equivalent of super-size-me). The same goes for tortilla chips, fried tortilla shells and plantain chips. Latin cuisine is a great place to get your fill of legumes and whole grains.
- Eat It: Baked or steamed tortillas, salsa, paella, tapas, ceviche, grilled chicken.
- Delete It: Refried beans, fried tortillas and chips, guacamole, cheese, sour cream.
South Asian food offers ample options for those trying to eat healthfully. However, it can be confusing when most of the appetizers and breads like chapati, naan and kulcha are fried or soaked in fat. Indian menus often mention “ghee,” which is clarified butter without any solid milk particles or water. A small amount of ghee, like nut oils, can add a lot of flavor to food.
The healthiest dishes are masala, aloo chole (chick peas, tomatoes and potatoes), biryani (rice with bits of vegetables, fruits, nuts, or meats), vindaloo (chicken, shrimp, fish), chicken tandoori or tikka, and vegetable curry.
- Eat It: Lentil soup, steamed spinach, tandoori, tikka.
- Delete It: Sweetened rice, carrot pudding, and fried breads such as chapati, poori, paratha, and naan.