It’s summertime! Whether on family vacation stateside, or traveling to far off lands, their ethnic food can be a real treat. However, it can also pack on the pounds even faster than normal holiday eating. Here are some things to think twice about, and some L.E.A.N.-er options to keep you on your path to healthy eating choices:
Think Twice About: Hush puppies, fried seafood, gumbos, etouffee sauces, blackened fish and dirty rice.
L.E.A.N. Options: creoles, jumbalayas, boiled crawfish, boiled shrimp, white rice.
Think Twice About: Egg rolls, egg drop soup, fried wontons, Lo Mein, Moo Shu, General Tso’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork, and fried rice. They are prepared with lots of oil, sodium, and MSG.
L.E.A.N. Options: Steamed or stir-fried seafood, chicken, bean curd or vegetable dishes, plus steamed rice. Ask the cook to use less oil, soy sauce, and MSG.
Think Twice About: Moussaka, gyros, and baklava. Keep in mind the high-fat meats (like lamb and beef), cheese, and butter found in some Greek dishes.
L.E.A.N. Options: Appetizers with chickpeas, eggplant, tomatoes, grains, like hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouli, dolmas. Also, shish kabob, chicken with pita, and fish cooked in tomatoes.
Think Twice About: Samosas and creamy curries. Many Indian dishes are full of high-fat ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil and milk.
L.E.A.N. Options: Tandoori meats; vegetable or dal curries; and shish kabobs. South Indian food offers spicy vegetarian dishes — with cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, eggplant, lentils, rice, and chutney.
Think Twice About: Creamy, cheesy sauces (like Alfredo). Fried calamari, pastas stuffed with cheese. Also bread, lasagna, and risotto. Many dishes are also high in fat with cream sauces, cheeses, sausage, pepperoni, or fried foods such as eggplant Parmesan.
L.E.A.N. Options: Limit pasta portions to around 1 cup (like a side dish). Light sauces, like primavera (vegetables); marsala (wine, mushrooms, beef stock); marinara (tomatoes, onions, garlic); or clam sauce. Have minestrone as a hearty starter. Also Chicken or veal picata, marsala, or cacciatore. Grilled or baked fish, pasta with marinara sauce with chicken, fish or vegetables.
Think Twice About: Lard and cheese feature high in Mexican food. Avoid Chips, fried tacos, refried beans, quesadillas, and chimichangas. These are all loaded with saturated fat and sodium.
L.E.A.N. Options: Start with black bean soup or grilled shrimp. Share chicken or shrimp fajitas. Try grilled shrimp or fish, with fresh salsa; chili verde (green chili pork); or arroz con pollo (rice and chicken).
Yes, it’s Italian, but deserves its own category!
Think Twice About: Cheese infused crust, deep dish, meat pizzas (sausage, salami, pepperoni, beef, bacon, etc), extra cheese, multiple slices.
L.E.A.N. Options: Ask for extra sauce, but half the cheese. Load up on veggies and skip the meat altogether. Order a thin crust. Fill up on salad and only eat one or two slices.
Think Twice About: Foods fried in lard or coconut oil. Potential culprits are: Fried spring rolls, coconut chicken soup (tom ka gai), duck.
L.E.A.N. Options: Steamed spring rolls, hot-and-sour soup, pad thai (stir-fried noodles), vegetable stir fries, sticky rice.