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Cheat Sheet: What to Eat When Dining Out

Dining out can be a dangerous game for dieters. Choose from this list of healthy entrees by Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You.

Chinese: Pass up egg rolls, spareribs, fried dumplings, pork lo mein, fried rice, moo shu, General Tso’s chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, wonton soup. Opt for steamed or stir-fried seafood, chicken, bean curd or vegetable dishes, egg drop soup; rice (1/2 cup; request brown rice, if available).

French: Pass up quiche, pommes frites (French fries), cordon bleu, croissant, pate, foie gras, sausage, escargot, any dish (including soups) made with cream or cheese. Opt for salad with vinaigrette dressing, bouillabaisse, roasted poultry, braised meat, mussels, oysters, ratatouille, steamed or grilled vegetables.

Indian: Pass up any dish with paneer (Indian cheese), korma sauce (made with cream) or coconut, any dish with malai (cream) or makhani (with butter). Opt for chicken or shrimp Tandoori, vegetable curries, vegetarian dishes cooked with spices but without clarified butter (ghee), naan (half a small).

Italian: Pass up garlic bread, meat sauces (like Bolognese), cheesy sauces (like alfredo), fried calamari, pastas stuffed with cheese, veal/chicken or eggplant Parmesan. Opt for light sauces, like marinara, primavera, clam, or marsala (wine, mushrooms, beef stock), branzino (sea bass), mussels fra diavolo.

Japanese: Pass up any kind of tempura, fried gyoza (the Japanese version of Chinese pot stickers) or fried wonton, agedashi tofu (deep-fried tofu), nikuitame (stir-fried pork), specialty rolls (may have more ingredients than basic rolls). Opt for seaweed salad, miso soup, broiled sea bass (or any broiled fish), yakitori (grilled chicken), steamed gyoza, sushi, nigiri, sashimi, edamame, ohitashi (steamed spinach).

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern: Pass up moussaka, gyros, falafel, baklava (a Greek pastry). Opt for Greek salad, shish kabob, souvlaki (chicken, not lamb), fish cooked in tomatoes (or any fish dish), hummus or baba ganoush (two tablespoons), pita bread (one small), tabouleh.

Mexican: Pass up chips, fried tacos, refried beans, quesadillas, chimichangas, enchiladas, beef burritos. Opt for black beans, black-bean soup, grilled shrimp, grilled chicken or fish, chicken or shrimp fajitas.

Steakhouse: Pass up fried appetizers, creamy soups, ribs, loaded baked potato, porterhouse steak, rib eye, onion rings, French fries. Opt for side salad, steamed veggies, baked potato (half; no butter or sour cream); grilled chicken, London broil, filet mignon, flank steak, sirloin tip, tenderloin, seafood, peel-’n’-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell.

Thai: Pass up fried spring rolls, tom ka gai (coconut chicken soup), duck. Opt for steamed spring rolls, hot-and-sour soup, pad Thai (stir-fried noodles), vegetable stir-fries, sticky rice (1/2 cup).

Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet: 10 Steps to a Thinner, Healthier You (Copyright © 2011 by Keri Gans), is a registered dietitian in private practice in Manhattan. Keri is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and the proud winner of the 2010 NYSDA Media Excellence Award.



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