By knowing which ethnic foods are high in fat—and which are not—you can enjoy dining out without compromising nutritional value, taste, or good eating habits.
Have a light snack, such as crackers or fruit, before you leave the house. That way you Won’t be famished and run the risk of overeating when you dine out.
If you’re trying a new restaurant, call ahead to see if the chef will prepare special orders. inquire about specific cooking techniques (such as broiling fish or chicken instead of frying it) and preparing certain dishes Without a rich sauce.
Be realistic about how much tinkering can be done. Even the finest chef cannot prepare fettuccine Alfredo Without using cream.
Learn to interpret food descriptions. “Crispy” and “pan-fried” mean “fried.” “Sauteed” may mean fried in lots of butter or oil, but it can also mean cooked with minimal butter or oil in a nonstick pan.
Recognize items that are high in fat even when the menu doesn’t tip you off. For example, potato skins served as an appetizer or side dish at a restaurant tend to be fried and accompanied by high-fat sour cream. Chicken nuggets, which often contain ground skin, are usually very high in fat.
Avoid fat-laden gravies and such sauces like hollandaise and bearnaise. Even if a sauce is described as a light, ask Whether it‘s cream or butter-based; if so, request a substitute of tomato, wine, or broth-based sauce.
If certain items on the menu have hearts or other symbols to denote healthier fare, don’t let that symbol be the deciding factor in your food selection. There are no organizations that monitor such claims.
Ask the Waiter to describe how a dish is prepared. Don’t be intimidated by the surroundings; the fancier the restaurant, the more Willing the chef may be to satisfy a customer.
If the restaurant you’ve chosen serves generous portions, you may want to split an entree with a companion. Or order an appetizer, soup, and salad, but omit an entree.
Ask for a plain salad With the dressing served on the side. Dip the tines of the fork into the dressing and then spear the greens. Don’t be shy about requesting substitutions, like a green salad for coleslaw and potato salad, which tend to be drenched in mayonnaise.
Ask to have your vegetables steamed and served plain or seasoned with lemon juice or herbs. Otherwise, they may be sauteed in butter or oil.
If a chocolate-mousse cake, pecan pie, or any other dessert sounds irresistible, order it and share it with others at the table.
A good rule for dining out; don’t feel compelled to ﬁnish everything on your plate. Most restaurants provide more than enough to satisfy your hunger, and excess calories may end up as excess pounds and inches.
Low in fat: Red beans and rice (without sausage); greens, meaning kale, mustard greens, or okra; cornbread; shrimp creole (in tomato sauce over rice); jambalaya or gumbo (order the poultry or seafood versions); grilled seafood.
High in fat: Hushpuppies (fried cornbread); dirty rice (fried rice with fatty meats); sausage dishes including boudin or andouille; rich soups or stews, such as bisque (cream broth) and étouffée (lots of butter); batter-fried seafood’s.
Tomatoes and hot peppers ﬁgure prominently in this cuisine, along With a wealth of tropical fruits and vegetables—guava, papaya, okra, cassava, plantain, mango, coconut, and many more.
Low in fat: Black bean soup or pepper pot (spicy vegetable and pork soup), vegetables like calalu (similar to spinach), okra; jerk meats (spicy marinade, usually grilled); curried chicken; seafood in fruit sauces, like Lime-garlic prawns, shrimp with garlic and papaya, or red snapper in bananas and rum.
High in fat: Conch fritters fried); soups made With creams, like yam bisque, or coconut, such as a hot banana. soup; fish poached in coconut milk.
Chinese food is very high in complex carbohydrates. Although Chinese restaurants in America tend to use more meat and sauce than those in China, they still serve a relatively low-fat cuisine.
Stir-fried vegetables, cooked very quickly in a lightly oiled, very hot Wok, retain vitamins better than vegetables cooked the traditional American Way. A drawback of Chinese cooking—-at least for some people with hypertension—is the sodium in salty sauces (like oyster and black bean sauce) and in monosodium glutamate (MSG). Since some people may be allergic to MSG, many Chinese restaurants omit it on request.
Low in fat: Hot-and-sour or Wonton soup; steamed dumplings; steamed or braised Whole fish or scallops With black bean sauce; chicken or eggplant steamed or braised; stir-fried dishes (ask the cook to go easy on the oil or to use broth instead); dishes made with sliced meat rather than diced (often hides a fatty cut).
High in fat: Fried egg rolls and dumplings; sesame noodles; fried rice; spareribs; Peking duck; anything “crispy” or “batter-coated” (both terms indicate deep frying); dishes heavy on nuts, such as kung pao chicken.
Pick main dishes with only small amounts of meat, and ask if the proportion of vegetables can be increased. Include a vegetarian dish or two in your order.
Low in fat: Rice-stuffed cabbage or peppers; borscht or fruit soups (made with yogurt instead of cream); knishes (pastry ﬁlled With spinach, kasha, or mushrooms); poached fish; pirogi, or piroch (pastry ﬁlled with meat or vegetables) Without sour cream, steamed or boiled instead of fried.
High, in fat: Goulash and paprikas (made with cream and fatty cuts of meat); blintzes (lots of cheese); schnitzel (meat breaded, fried, and covered with cream sauce); sausages like kielbasa.
Some French food is loaded With rich ingredients and topped with creamy and buttery sauces. However, there are many dishes that are relatively safe for the fat-conscious diner. As for the truly extravagant desserts and cheeses, the best strategy is to keep the portions very, very small.
Low in fat: Salade Nicoise, spinach salad (sans bacon); consomme and other stock-based soups; stews, such as bouillabaisse or ratatouille; poached or steamed ﬁsh or seafood; seared or oven-roasted scallops or salmon; dishes with sauces labeled coulis (vegetable puree, or reduction); roast chicken.
High, in fat: Cassoulet and gratins (made with lots of cheese or egg), dishes heavy with eggs, such as quenelles and souffles; hollandaise, beurre blanc, and other dairy-based sauces; fatty meats, such as sweetbreads and duck, and pate.
Greek food is cooked mainly in olive oil and features many vegetables, fruits, lentils, pasta, rice, and ﬁsh. When meats are on the menu, they are often grilled or roasted, which reduces the fat.
Low in fat: Taranto (cold soup With eggplant, pepper, and yogurt); grilled fish or octopus; skewered and grilled vegetables and meat dishes, such as souvlaki and shish kebab; grilled lamb chops or roast leg or braised shanks; fish baked with plaid sauce.
High in fat: Taramasalata (creamy ﬁsh roe dip); meat in avgolemono (egg-based lemon sauce); bourekakia (cheese-stuffed pastry); moussaka and pastitsio (casseroles made with eggs and cheese); skordalia (almond-garlic sauce).
This cuisine is rich in vegetables, legumes, and yogurt. But many Indian dishes are soaked in ghee (clariﬁed butt-er) or coconut oil, one of the few vegetable oils that consist almost entirely of saturated fatty acids (86 per- cent). it‘s possible to avoid these fats by asking how each dish is cooked. Some Indian restaurants will also use different kinds of cooking oils on request.
Low in fat: Baked breads like chapati, nan, kulcha; lentil or vegetable-based soups like mulligatawny; chicken or fish prepared in tandoori-, tikka, vindaloo-, or masala-style: yogurt-based curries.
High in fat: Fried appetizers like samosas and pakoras or fried bread, such as poori and pamtha; any dishes called bandhari, malai, and korma (lots of cream or coconut).
Rice is the foundation of an Indonesian meal, and there’s always a combination of sweet and sour and salty tastes.
Low“ mfat: Rijstaffel—rice served with a variety of small dishes, such as ayam pang gang (grilled chicken) and Gado Gado (vegetables—ask for the peanut sauce on the side).
High in fats: Coconut milk—based dishes like the chicken and nutmeg opor ayam or the beef and lemongrass kahlio daging; fried dishes like arm-den-g putrimanis (steak) or ayam goreng kalasan (chicken).
This cuisine, particularly southern Italian cooking, has been called one of the world’s healthiest. It is based largely on pasta (which is rich in complex carbohydrates) and olive oil (78 percent monounsaturated), as well as on vegetables, fruit, and ﬁsh. Northern Italian cooking tends to be richer, with much more beef, veal, butter, and cream; residents of northern cities suffer from considerably more heart disease than those who live in southern regions.
Low in fat; Vegetable antipasto (often including roasted peppers and zucchini and grilled mushrooms); such salads as Panzanella (with tomatoes and bread); pasta with tomato or wine-based sauce; linguine with clam sauce; pasta Fagioli (shells and beans); ribollito, the thick vegetarian stew; grilled game, veal, and fish; chicken cacciatore; snapper in cartoccio (baked in parchment); marinated calamari.
High. in fat: Meat and cheese antipasto; fritto misto (the “fried mixed” seafood, meat, or vegetable platter); garlic bread; cannelloni, lasagna, and other cheese-filled pasta; pesto and pasta with cream sauces, including carbonara and Alfredo; risotto (heavy with butter and cheese); cheesy eggplant, chicken, and veal parmigiana; veal piccata and marsala; pizza with sausage, pepperoni, and olive toppings; cannoli or other cream-filled pastries.
Generally, Japanese cooking is very low in fat. It is based on protein-rich soybean products (such as tofu), fish, vegetables, noodles, and rice.
Seaweed used in sushi and Japanese stews is high in calcium, magnesium, and iodine.
However, the traditional Japanese diet is high in salted, smoked, and pickled foods, so if you are on a low-salt diet, consume Japanese food in moderation. Anyone worried about eating raw ﬁsh can try sushi made with vegetables and cooked crab or shrimp
Low in fats: Miso soup; yakitori (broiled chicken); sunomomo (cucumber salad); shrimp or chicken teriyaki; tofu and other soybean dishes; yosenabe, a seafood and vegetable stew; shabu shabu, a variety of vegetables or meats boiled in broth; broiled ﬁsh or chicken served over rice; sashimi and sushi (except for salmon caviar).
High in fats: Tempura or anything else under the heading of agemono (deep-fried); pan-fried pork; fried dumplings; sukiyaki; egg dishes, such as oyako-domburi.
Bean paste is a staple of Korean cooking. Ingredients are often ﬁnely sliced and shredded, then stir-fried in a small amount of oil, and served in small pancakes.
Low in fats: Soup, like the bean paste and vegetable dumpling chi gae or the seafood and tofu kang doenjang; pickled vegetables called kimachi; nang myon dishes featuring cold buckwheat noodles in a spicy sauce With vegetables or poultry; barbecued meats like but go ki (beef) are good—order lean cuts, such as sirloin.
High in fat: Egg drop soups like duck kuk; barbecued ribs, kalbi; pan-fried ﬁsh dishes like gul jun or sang sum jun.
The rice, corn, and beans that are staples of the diet in Mexico have little fat and are nutrient-dense. But some of the most popular dishes served in American Mexican restaurants, such as beef burritos with cheese and sour cream, are quite high in fat.
Low in fats: Mesquite-grilled chicken, seafood; or lean cuts of beef or pork, especially with fresh salsa; chicken or ﬁsh marinated in lime juice; fajitas or tacos at carbon, especially seafood (hold the sour cream); corn tortillas; bean or vegetable burritos; rice; soft-shell tacos.
High infats: Tortilla chips and nachos; guacamole; fried dishes, such as chimichangas, hard-shell tacos, flautas, taiquitos; tamales, quesadillas, cheese enchiladas, and chili con queso; dishes with poblanio aioli (chili mayonnaise) or cilantro pesto (nuts and oil); refried beans.
Lamb, rather than beef, is featured in Middle Eastern cuisine. Hearty stews, often based on rice or couscous, are enriched by mixtures of nuts, currants, and spices.
Low in fats: Pita bread; ful medames (fava beans and chickpeas); any kind of salads, such as tabbouleh or fattoush; lentil soup; rice pilaf; shish kebab; kibbe (baked meat with Wheat, onions, and pine nuts); kofta (grilled ground beef with parsley and onions). ‘
High in fats: Saganaki (contains fried cheese and butter); falafel (deep-fried); kasseri (cheese and butter casserole).
Low in fats: Tapas, which are Spanish appetizers, such as chicharron de gallina (chicken in lemon and pepper sauce), cscabeciic (ﬁsh marinated in Wine vinegar), gazpacho, a cold vegetable soup; or for entrees, paella, a sort of rice stew with vegetables and seafood, pork, or chicken; ﬁsh or chicken baked in picada, (sweet and sour) sauce.
High in fat: Jamon serrano (fatty ham); tortillas espanola (potato and onion omelet); chorizo salteado (pork sausage in oil).
Low in fat: Lemongrass soups, such as tom yum Koong (shrimp and chili paste); stir-fried noodles and sprouts; sauteed ginger beef or chicken (request a light touch With the oil).
High, in fats: Coconut-based soups and curries, peanut sauce, deep-fried dishes, such as royal tofu and hot Thai catﬁsh.