All Posts In Dining Out

Beyond Chicken Nuggets: When Kids Eat Out, Can They Eat Well?

by in Dining Out, June 11, 2014

kids' plate

With their steady rotation of grilled cheese and butter-topped noodles, the “kid-friendly” section of restaurant menus has always been unimaginative. But these days it’s hard not to notice that the offerings are also fairly unhealthy. The palette of food geared toward children is primarily white, brown and orange — the colors of french fries, fried nuggets (of one sort or another) and mac and cheese. Not only is such fare typically lacking in creativity, it’s also lacking in nutrition, although there’s generally no lack of calories or sodium. It’s not uncommon for a kid’s meal to exceed 1,000 calories, more than any adult needs in one sitting.

The good news is that many restaurants are making strides in revamping the menu options for pint-sized patrons. The National Restaurant Association just hosted the second annual Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge — a competition that encourages chefs to come up with enticing but healthy alternatives for kids. Winners included an organic sunflower butter and jam sandwich on multi-grain oat bread and a whole-wheat quesadilla filled with broccoli, chicken, peppers and corn. Read more

Chinese Takeout: What Are The Healthiest Picks?

by in Dining Out, March 22, 2014

takeout
This popular takeout fare tends to be on everyone’s speed dial. But it’s always good to know what the healthiest options are, especially when that deep-fried egg roll is calling your name.

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Order This, Not That: Jamba Juice

by in Dining Out, February 3, 2014

jamba juice
Ice-cold smoothies are a delicious treat at this quick-serve joint. But not all beverages are created equal.

The Menu
Over the years, Jamba Juice has expanded its menu to include a variety of drinks, breakfast wraps, fro-yo, baked goods and even kids’ options. With so much to choose from, it can make anyone’s head spin. But here’s how to give this blender bar a whirl.

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20+ Healthy Foods to Pack When You Travel

by in Dining Out, July 22, 2013

whole-grain crackers
Hitting the road this summer? Whether traveling by car or plane you can still make healthy choices.

By Car
By the time you turn the corner, everyone in the car is begging for food. The last thing you want to do is bring a never-ending supply of junk. Instead, pack a few good-for-you mess-free meals and snacks. To keep things fresh, bring a cooler (the traditional kind or one that plugs into the car).

Meals:

  • Whole-grain pasta salad or quinoa salad
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread
  • Hard-boiled egg and cheese in a whole-wheat pita

Snacks:

  • Sliced fresh fruit like melon and berries
  • Snack bar
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cheese and whole-grain crackers

If you end up having to hit the quick mart anyway, look for the smarter choices:

  • Whole-grain pretzels
  • Hummus cups
  • Coffee or tea (nothing fancy)
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Small bowl of oatmeal

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The Healthiest Restaurant Mexican Food Options

by in Dining Out, June 11, 2013

steak taco
If you think a night out at a Mexican restaurant will sabotage your healthy eating plan, think again! With a little knowledge and planning, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Chipotle Mexican Grill
After playing around with their nutrition calculator, I found the most balanced option was a salad with lettuce, 1 serving of steak, black beans, green tomatilla salsa and fajita veggies.

Nutrition Info: Calories: 355; Total Fat: 8 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 40 grams; Carbohydrates: 34 grams; Sodium: 975 milligrams

If you’re in the mood for a taco, choose the soft corn tortilla and one protein (chicken, steak, barbacoa, or carnitas) and top with veggies (lettuce and fajita veggies) and your favorite salsa. This will give you a nutritious meal for around 400 calories.

Check out more healthy Chipotle options.

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Hot Trend: Artisan Cocktails

by in Dining Out, May 16, 2013

cocktail
Rum and coke is a thing of the past. Instead, you’ll find bars offering up a menu of exotic cocktails created from high-quality booze and fresh ingredients. I had the opportunity to speak with the bar manager Sarah Boisjoli from Beauty and Essex — one of the trendiest bars in New York City, known for their high superb cocktail menu — about hot cocktail trends you’ll see this year.

Q. The term “mixologist” is now being used instead of “bartender.” Is there a difference between the two?

There is a difference. A mixologist develops the recipes while the bartender mixes and serves them. In order to develop a cocktail, we work as a team and put much thought and time into perfecting it using the freshest and highest quality ingredients.

Q. What are some of the infusions that you offer on your cocktail menu?

Many of our drinks are creating by infusing flavors. For example in the Sapphire Seventy-Five Bombay Sapphire is infused with blueberry-brown sugar and in the La Miel we infuse a local Brooklyn gin with vanilla.

Q. How can folks at home infuse their own cocktails?
A great combo is Woodford bourbon infused with cinnamon. Put cinnamon sticks into the bourbon and let it hang out for a few days or weeks (the longer it hangs out, the stronger the flavor). Strain it out and you have delicious cinnamon-infused bourbon.

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Order This, Not That: Five Guys

by in Dining Out, March 7, 2013

5 Guys Burger
This chain has been popping up all everywhere — there are over 1,000 locations nationwide. Find out what you should order when you stop by this booming burger and fry joint.

ORDER: Simple and “Little”

It’s tough to navigate this predominately high-calorie and high-sodium menu if you’re trying to stick to a healthy eating plan but it is possible.

If you’re itching for the Five Guys famous burger, the Bunless Little Hamburger is your best bet with 220 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 50 milligrams of sodium. Ask for veggie toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, onions, jalapeno, lettuce and tomatoes for between 3 to 10 calories each per serving.

If you’re more of a hot dog fan, the Bunless Hot Dog weighs in at 285 calories, 26 grams of fat and 800 milligrams sodium. Again, add veggies to add bulk to your meal with minimal calories.

Looking for a meatless dish? The Veggie Sandwich has 440 calories, 15 grams fat, and 1040 mg sodium.

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Low-Calorie Fast-Food Menu Items

by in Dining Out, February 12, 2013

chicken sandwich
You’re stuck on the road, or didn’t have a chance to eat and end up in some fast-food joint that’s all too conveniently placed in your neighborhood. What should you choose? Your best line of defense is to be prepared. I checked out popular fast-food restaurants and found options that can fit any calorie requirements; whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a sensibly-sized meal, I’ve got you covered.

Meals
A reasonable lunch or dinner has about 400 or 500 calories, depending on your overall calorie needs.

500 Calories

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The Most Extreme Restaurant Meals in America

by in Dining Out, Food News, January 16, 2013

restaurant menu
The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) just released the “winners” of its annual Xtreme Eating Award, which tracks the calorie, saturated fat, sodium and sugar content of meals served at chain restaurants across the US. Amongst such expected “dis-honorees” as double-bacon cheeseburgers (that’s the 1,770-calorie Bacon Cheddar Double at Johnny Rocket’s) and heavy, sugar-laden chocolate cake (the Chocolate Zuccotto Cake at Maggiano’s Little Italy, which has over 1,800 calories) were some unexpectedly healthy-sounding foods. Who would have thought that a large Peanut Power Plus Grape smoothie from Smoothie King would weigh in at 1,460 calories – three-quarters of the generally recommended 2,000 daily calories? The smoothie also contains 22 teaspoons of added sugar  — enough for three and a half days! Could you have guessed that The Cheesecake Factory’s seemingly nutritious Bistro Shrimp Pasta – with its shrimp and fresh arugula, tomato, and mushrooms – would in fact have the highest calorie count (3,120 calories!) of any entrée on the menu?  The 89 grams of saturated fat in the pasta is four and a half times the recommended daily maximum of 20 grams.

With options like this out there, it would be easy to inadvertently sabotage your New Year’s resolutions by picking such virtuous-sounding dishes. Make sure you check the calorie count, as well at the fat, sodium, and added sugar content, of food that you consume while out; also, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on portion size. Or even better, make restaurant-style meals at home so you control the ingredients and thus the fat, calories and portion size.

Check out the full list of CSPI’s annual “winners.”

Surviving Football Sunday: Bars and Restaurants

by in Dining Out, November 4, 2012

 football
If you’re like me, Sunday football is a must-do activity during the fall and early winter. While rooting for your favorite team won’t cost you any calories, some football festivities have major penalties, especially when the game heads out to restaurants and bars.

Piling Up
Spending the afternoon at a local bar and grill can get you into more trouble than you might think. Let’s crunch the numbers…

Let’s say you meet up with friends to watch a couple of games. You arrive around 1pm and plan on leaving by 6pm, in time to make it home for the night game.

Let’s assume you consume 2 beers an hour, plus munch on chicken wings (5 pieces), some nachos (1/4 order), plus a cheeseburger (no fries, you’re being “good”).

Hold on to your helmet! That comes out to 3150 calories in 5 hours. That’s over 150% of the calories most folks need in an entire day. Eat like this for 16 regular season weeks and you’ll tackle over 50,000 calories (14.5 pounds), and that’s not counting the Super Bowl party!

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