Healthy Restaurant Eating

By The Restaurant Dieter

Category: Advice (page 2 of 2)

Weight Watchers: What to eat for breakfast

Breakfast12.20.15Nobody can eat at a restaurant all the time, not even The Restaurant Dieter. The new ¬†Weight Watchers program really pushes members towards what my meeting leader calls “real food.” So the trick is to eat the right things when you can at home.

Today’s breakfast was 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons real maple syrup, 1 ripe diced pear (from the Harry & David gift box that arrived in Friday’s UPS delivery) and 1/2 cup mini wheat squares for a grand total of 7 points. A really satisfying breakfast.

 

If It’s Shiny, It’s Nearly Always Fat

The food in chain restaurant commercials is seductive. It is sun-soaked, or at least artificially lighted within an inch of its life to look so. It’s wet, dripping with the water of vegetables freshly picked and washed.

And it is shiny. It glistens in that faux sunlight like the screen of a brand new iPad, just loosened from its pristine white box. ¬†The mouth waters. And all that sheen adds up to…fat.
Whether it’s butter or the cheapest canola oil available, restaurant food often arrives at the table with a veneer of fat. Often it’s more than a mere veneer. A piece of fish can easily have a whole tablespoon of fat clinging to it on all sides. With olive oil, that’s 119 calories and 14 grams of fat.
There’s even a thin sheen when you’ve asked for it to be grilled without fat, picked up from residue on the grill itself.
On Weight Watchers, this presents a question: How to account for an undetermined amount of shine. A Weight Watchers leader told me she follows a simple rule: 1 point if its a thin sheen and 2 if it looks properly shellacked. In my loss of 50 pounds, I followed this rule scrupulously.
At a Mexican restaurant, for example, chicken or shrimp fajitas, especially if eaten with higher-fiber corn tortillas, are a good option. But they often arrive at the table sizzling in the grease. I’ve taken to telling the server: “Please ask the kitchen to take it out of whatever it’s marinating in, run it under some water and then throw it on the grill.” Try it sometime. The waiter may pretend to be confused, like you’re speaking in Chinese or something, and it may well come out dripping anyway. But you can always send it back, and I have. The resulting dish doesn’t suffer in flavor in the least.
So I was a little dubious recently when I stopped for another Whole Paycheck salad and saw on the salad bar a bottle of shiny brown liquid that purported to be no-fat balsamic dressing. Such items don’t have to carry nutritional labeling, so one has to take it on faith. The ingredients were water, balsamic vinegar, tamari, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, onion powder, rosemary, thyme and garlic.
Nutritional yeast carries a small amount of fat, which may account for the shine, but very little. Lacking oil, it didn’t spread through the salad the way an oily dressing does. It didn’t have the silky flavor of a first-class balsamic dressing, but on the other hand, it was fine.
Chalk one up for nutritional yeast. Anyone have a recipe to replicate this dressing at home?

 

How many calories in that dressing cup on the side?

Let’s talk, shall we, fellow Weight Watchers, about the salad dressing cup? You know, that little plastic, stainless steel or ceramic cup that arrives cradled on the edge of your salad when you have the temerity to ask the waiter, “Can I have the dressing on the side?”

It’s a godsend, right? Well, maybe.

In the restaurant trade, this item is apparently known as a sauce cup, a souffle cup or a portion cup. I like the latter term because portion control is what so many of us lack. Our well-intended salads mutate to mock us: “Oh sure, you ordered a salad! But will you LOOK at the high-fat dressing that’s on it?” OK, busted.

That’s where that little cup comes in. We pick it up, pour it on, smug that we are in control of our cellulite.

Ah, if it were only that simple. These little gems come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Search “plastic portion cup” in Google and see what you get. It’s confusing.

I found black ones, white ones, clear ones, polystyrene ones, stainless steel ones and ceramic ones. I found them in sizes ranging from 3/4 ounces to 3 1/4 ounces. The size I regarded as the most common turned out to contain 2 ounces in plastic but 2.5 ounces in stainless steel. But they looked the same to me.

Plus, that 2-2.5 ounce cup isn’t what you want anyway. Look on the side of that dressing bottle, my friend: the nutritional information calls for a 2 tablespoon serving — which is 1 ounce.

That’s a double portion pointed right at your hips.

Defend yourself. Ask for a tablespoon and drip it on gingerly. It may not be as accurate as the tablespoon measure in your kitchen, but it’s also unlikely to be a double shot.

Oh, and if the dressing comes in one of those little silver gravy boats, run. Immediately.

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