Posted on 09/25/2011 at 05:54 PM by Madhu Gadia
I love to eat out, how about you? It’s convenient, fun, social, and at the end of the meal—no dishes. Over the years, I have noticed that I’m eating out more than I used to. With friends, we often just meet at a restaurant instead of inviting each other over for dinner or a cup of coffee. I have colleagues and friends that have never come to my house. This is a huge change from how things were when I was growing up when eating out was reserved for special occasions. Nobody I knew went out to eat or picked up a meal on the way home because they were too tired to cook. I remember my mom, when tired or sick, just making a matar pulao (pea pilaf) for a quick and easy meal.
Eating out is easy, but is it good for us? As a mom, my biggest concern is the health of my family, and as a nutritionist the health of the nation. People today are eating out up to 5 meals a week. If you’re eating out more than once a week you have to be cognizant of what you order and how much you eat.
Sneaky Portions: What is portion size - does anyone really know anymore? I don’t think kids today know that a 2-inch cookie, a 2-ounce bagel, or a 1½-ounce muffin were normal portion sizes until about 1985. The portions are even bigger today than in these quizzes from 2003 and 2004.
The other day, we were eating out in an Indian restaurant and my friend who is trying to lose weight asked me if I knew how many calories were in the tandoori roti (Indian flatbread, cooked in a clay oven) we had ordered. I guessed that one roti was about 250 calories. He didn’t believe me. He ate only half of it, and later, we measured the roti on a food scale. Half of that tandoori roti was about 2.2 ounces, which is about 175 calories (1 ounce of bread or roti is about 80 calories) and thus that whole tandoori roti would be 350 calories. Wow, I was off by 100 calories. He was right and I was so happy that he didn’t listen to me—this time. And it once again affirmed my belief that when you’re eating out you have to be super careful or calories will slowly sneak into your diet.
Want to know more about Indian food in restaurants, read my response to the Editor of healthyeats.com: Question: Many calorie-conscious home cooks may see the heavy sauces or fried breads often featured in Indian restaurants as too decadent and fatty for an everyday meal. Surely, not all of Indian dishes are indulgences. Are there lighter choices to make at home?
Answer: Restaurant meals are often high in fat and calories… Indian cooking at home rarely, if ever, uses cream as the base. At home, most sauces are made with onion, tomatoes and spices and, for a creamy sauce, yogurt or nuts are added. (For the full answer and the rest of the interview, visit the blog post here: blog.foodnetwork.com/
Eating Out Healthfully: Do you really know how often you eat out? In reality, not in theory! My clients often find as they keep a food record that they eat out more often then they thought.
- Keep a record of how many times you eat out for a few weeks. Make sure you count every meal you eat away from home—breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, coffee shops (unless it’s just black coffee), parties, carryout, and ordering-in. Be truthful to yourself.
- Be careful of portion size. Measure, measure, and measure. Use a measuring cup, spoon, and a food scale once in a while so you know how much you’re eating.
- Share a meal. Or bring 1/2 to 2/3 home, depending on the restaurant.
- Remember to balance meals. It’s hard to eat out and get everything you need, especially fruits and vegetables. Eat at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits a day.
- Eat mindfully. Enjoy the taste and flavor of what you’re eating.
The Indian Vegan Kitchen Reviews: “Fragrant curry, simmering dal, colorful tandoori, spicy korma—the aromatic, delicious foods of India, with their incredible range of spices, flavors, foods, colors, textures and ingredients, speak for themselves,” says Sharon Palmer, RD, editor of Environmental Nutrition in the article “Indian Cuisine, Healthy and Delicious.”
I also hope you had a chance to check out the “Vegan Gourmet” recipes in the October issue of Vegetarian Times, in the article called “Indian Made Easy.”
October Recipes: Dal is an Indian version of beans. Actually, dal is the generic name for all dried beans, peas, lentils, legumes, or pulses. The word dal is used interchangeably for both dry and cooked beans. Dals are staple in Indian cuisine. Dals (beans) are very versatile and are a nutrition powerhouse. This month, I chose dal recipes that are readily available and easy to prepare. The Lentil-Vegetable Soup and Quick Kidney Beans recipes both use canned beans and pink lentils used in the Ginger-Spinach Pink Lentils recipe cook up very quickly. Also, you will find that all three preparations have a very different seasoning and a unique base. Enjoy dal with rice, roti (flatbread), or any crusty whole-grain bread for a satisfying and filling delicious meal.
Lentil-Vegetable Soup (Masoor-Subji Soup)
Ginger-Spinach Pink Lentils (Adrak-Palak Dal)
Quick Kidney Beans (Rajmah)
Happy and Healthy Cooking!