Healthy Restaurant Eating

By The Restaurant Dieter

Author: restaurantdieter (page 1 of 24)

Review: David Burke Kitchen in New York; dead at brunch but the food was good

By now you know that my husband drags me to restaurants I would never think of going. I’d stop at the sandwich shop for lunch, but he wants to dine

Feeling a little chunky this morning, when the subject of lunch came up I said I just wanted a salad. He looked for a restaurant in Soho on Open Table and picked David Burke Kitchen. (It goes without saying that if a restaurant isn’t in Open Table, it might as well not exist for my husband.)

Asked how he learned of it, he said, “he’s a boldface-name chef,” as if that explained everything. So be it: David Burke, this one’s for you.

My husband had apparently checked the menu before making the reservation and saw it had salads. Only it didn’t —  at least not on the brunch menu. “There’s a chicken sandwich,” he said hopefully.

I resigned myself to the sandwich and ordered the starter of raw and pickled vegetables. That began my evolution from negative to positive. The vegetables included crunchy tart fennel, baby carrots, cucumber slices and endive with a portion cup of artichoke puree.


My husband, of course, ordered the tater tots with caviar and crème fraiche — a perfect Baby Boomer food snob dish.


The chicken sandwich came with a nice salad of spinach, arugula and raddichio. The sandwich itself was piled high on buttered toasted focaccia: chicken, a homemade mayo with some heat, a celery root slaw, a fat slice of tomato and red onion.

It was delicious, especially because the paillard of chicken was surprisingly warm and juicy. It’s so easy to overcook and dry out a piece of chicken pounded flat.

The whole lunch was more fattening than my modest salad would have been. But I left most of the bread and salad to compensate.


As I write this, hubby is having dessert — a chocolate hazelnut flan — and a leisurely second glass of wine. He’s happy.


And me? Happy too. Life’s full of compromises, and some of them result in good blog posts.

Here’s to you David Burke.

Review: Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen in New York

Any restaurant that makes a Top 10 list by a respected critic is likely to please my husband. He collects foodie merit badges like an over eager Boy Scout. So I said, “Next time we are in New York, let’s try this place.”

In this case the list was by Adam Platt of New York Magazine and Grubstreet and the restaurant was Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen. The line on this West Village spot is that it’s run by a real Chinese person who isn’t cooking from the Americanized Chinese restaurant guide. “Zhu comes from Chongqing, Sichuan, and operates restaurants in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hangzhou, and she and her chefs create a menu which reflects elements of all of these evolving regional cuisines,” Platt says.

The restaurant also receives high marks for ambience and decor. There are no red lacquer tables and dragon heads here; only a cool farm-to-table vibe. It’s a far cry from the Americanized Chinese  restaurants whose names seem taken interchangably from Column A or Column B of the same limited vocabulary: lucky, Budda, dragon, golden, pearl, garden, lotus, jade, China, Hunan and so on.


From the perspective of one trying to eat in moderation, this is a Chinese restaurant that forgoes the typical American Chinese cuisine. There’s no endless bowl of nutritionally vapid white rice, no portions big enough to wreck a diet in one sitting or provide an enormous portion for the next day or two. Portions are said to be shared, but split among four persons, they amount to a  bite or two each at most. The food itself is not low in fat, but you won’t go home stuffed either.

The menu is seasonally influenced and divided by the type of course: cold salads, hot starters, noodles, mains, dim sum and dessert. It’s unclear how to juggle among them, in what order they will appear or what utensils besides one’s own chopsticks to use to serve oneself or others. Go with people who you like and aren’t worried about germs.

The standouts were delicate, tiny fried meatballs; clay pot dumplings made of minced pork with an egg crepe skin in a savory chicken broth; cauliflower stir-fired with chiles and a seafood pancake that was crispy fried but not greasy. The dan dan noodles were silkier and more subtle than the peanut butter laden variety of a typical restaurant, but kind of bland and boring as a result. Overall, it’s a good bet.

Review: Eat light the rest of the day before going to Revival in Decatur

The only way to eat mindfully at Decatur’s Revival is to eat light the rest of the day. This is not a restaurant with a lot of light-and-healthy choices. It’s a splurge, and a really good one at that.

Revival is an interesting name for this restaurant situated in an old Decatur home just off the downtown area. It’s been the location of at least two failed restaurants. This effort seems likelier to be successful. It’s by Chef Kevin Gillespie, who also owns the new American dim sum restaurant Gunshow in Atlanta.

The inspiration here isn’t the unlucky building, though. The name comes from the Sunday suppers of Gillespie’s youth. It’s southern with all the trimmings.

Diners can order a la carte from the menu, or choose their own entries as part of the family style dinner for $42 a person. Family style includes entree, the sides and choice of dessert. We chose family style, and it was a lot of food.

The amuse bouche was a pork belly — I gave mine away — with pickled green tomatoes.

The salad, if eaten alone, would have been a pretty healthy choice. It was kale, lightly bruised in a dressing of cider vinegar and egg, with apple chunks, pickled onion and locally sourced Thomasville Tomme cheese. It came with exceptionally tender corn bread and honey butter. Of course I had one.

The salad at Revival was was kale with apples, picked onion, Thomasville Tomme cheese and a boiled dressing of apple cider vinegar and egg

Revival’s corn muffins with honey butter

Two of our number had a juicy pork chop; the third the duck and I had the fried chicken. I limited myself to the one small breast piece, and gave away or left the rest. As with any southern restaurant, the sides starred as much as the main courses. The beans in the beans-and-rice were firm; the flavor and texture had not been cooked out of them. The mac ‘n cheese was gooey good. The greens were smoky and rich.

For dessert, three of our group had the fried apple pie with vanilla ice cream. The pastry itself was buttery, flaky, wonderful. I had a ginger cake with cream cheese ice cream. The latter is a strange flavor by itself, but it worked well with the cake. I tasted both desserts, enjoyed them, and shared or left most of mine.

That’s the secret to eating here. Leave some to take home, share with companions or consign to the food recycling gods.

Revival’s ginger cake with cream cheese ice cream

 

 

How to maintain weight without dieting

How to avoid gaining weight without dieting:

  1. Exercise
  2. Eat mindfully
  3. Don’t fret about it every minute of every day.

At least that’s what I’m learning from this experiment. I’ve started to weigh myself at home and am learning that by doing the things recommended in Why Diets Make Us Fat, my weight is consistent: 208 most days.

Review: Le Coq Rico in New York is real food

One wouldn’t call roast chicken a diet food. Some of its flavor surely comes from the oil or butter rubbed on the skin before roasting.

Still, at about 500 calories for 1/4 of the bird, it’s better than a lot of other choices. I don’t like or eat the skin anyway. And at Le Coq Rico it is at least real food, simply prepared and not shot full of fillers, marinades, hormones or antibiotics.

There are no tricks at all at this bistro that made the New York Times’ 10 best list for 2016. Everything, from the cream of chicken soup to the green salad with a tangy vinaigrette, is real food that might have been prepared by a talented home cook. Even the desserts, which included banana, ginger and a really distinctive chestnut ice cream, were homey.

And homey is definitely meant as a compliment here. Go.



Breakfast: why eating nuts works

Research suggests that nuts, the enemy of calorie counters, actually contribute to healthy weight and even weight loss. Since I’ve stopped counting calories and Weight Watcher points, I’ve been eating more nuts. They have a satisfying mouthfeel, crunchy and substantial.

The trick is to avoid eating salted nuts. Salt is a trigger food that leads to overeating.

My go-to breakfast is plain yogurt, some 100 percent real maple syrup, fruit (fresh if possible), some kind of high-fiber sugar-free cereal and unsalted nuts. It’s really satisfying and seems to set me up for a successful day. The rest of today will be all restaurant eating, and I think I’m well prepared.

Eating at the Delta SkyClub


Once again I find myself in the Delta SkyClub. I had enough restraint to limit myself to one red velvet cookie. Even with all these choices and more.

A good reason to exercise

A friend of my husband asked him recently, “What happened to The Restaurant Dieter.” The answer was in my last post. I diet no more.

That doesn’t mean I don’t try to eat healthy and take care of myself. It just means that I’m not counting those Weight Watchers points anymore.

Christmas is challenging time for most folks who struggle with weight. Besides the availability of rich and sugary food itself, emotions run high — both happy emotions and not-so-happy emotions.

What to do? Today it was 25 minutes on the treadmill. Did the trick.

 

Why I am not dieting

About a year ago, I rebranded this website from The Restaurant Dieter to Healthy Restaurant Eating.com. I did not know at the time how wise that decision would be. I’m done with dieting.

And I’m no worse for it.

Yesterday, I weighed in at Weight Watchers. Without tracking and counting Weight Watchers points for two months now, I have remained in the same weight band I have been for the better part of a year.  How have I managed? I have engaged in mindful eating — not at all the same as a diet — and gotten some exercise. I’ve added more nuts to my diet, whenever I feel like it. And I’ve stopped eating when I feel full.

These are the wise conclusions in a revealing new book called “Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss.” Author Sandra Aamodt chronicles her own journey, along with tons of peer-reviewed scientific research that shows why this is a losing battle. Most interesting of all to me is the research that shows the very act of mentally focusing on the weight battle wears us down and results in…more eating.

In a recent column for The New York Times, she wrote:

WHY would dieting lead to weight gain? First, dieting is stressful. Calorie restriction produces stress hormones, which act on fat cells to increase the amount of abdominal fat. Such fat is associated with medical problems like diabetes and heart disease, regardless of overall weight.

 Second, weight anxiety and dieting predict later binge eating, as well as weight gain. Girls who labeled themselves as dieters in early adolescencewere three times more likely to become overweight over the next four years. Another study found that adolescent girls who dieted frequently were 12 times more likely than non-dieters to binge two years later.

How credible is her work? Pretty credible. She has an undergraduate degree in biophysics, a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and four years of post-doctoral research at Yale University, according to her biography. She’s also was the editor-in-chief of the scientific journal, Nature Neuroscience.

And her own journey will sound achingly familiar to those who have struggled with weight their entire lives.

This is no knock on Weight Watchers, which just this year changes to a new emphasis on eating mindfully, exercising and overall health. It’s called “Beyond the Scale.” In fact, though I am not tracking and writing things down, I am eating the way Weight Watchers recommends on its “Simply Filling” plan, which does not require the level of writing things down that the standard points-tracking plan does.

At some point, I might chuck Weight Watchers entirely, but not yet. I like being able to weigh in to keep my mind on my mindfulness, so to speak. And for a person just starting to get serious about living a healthy lifestyle, I’d still recommend it as a splendid way to get acclimated to eating the good food our bodies need more often.

Weight Watchers weigh-in: Up 2, but it could be a lot worse

Travel is hard. It shows up on the scale for nearly everyone. In my case, it was:

  1. A weekend in New York for fun.
  2. A week in Orlando at a company conference. You can’t set the menu, you can’t avoid the food. There are healthy choices, of course, but so many others and so much of it. And when the meetings start with breakfast and go through sponsored events until 9 p.m., it’s not easy.
  3. A weekend in Cincinnati with friends.

There’s always next week.

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