Unhealthy food in healthy disguises


This appetizing entree is a fresh salad with strawberries, walnuts, and lowfat dressing. It’s as healthy as it looks!

 

Food is culturally how Americans socialize. We enjoy going out to lunch or dinner with family and friends and ordering appetizers, meals and desserts.

It’s no wonder the website WebMD.com stated in an article in February 2010 that 63.1 percent of Americans are overweight. Some of the biggest pitfalls are choosing between healthy and unhealthy foods on the menu.

Do you know what to choose?

FAST FOOD

Most people gravitate towards salads on a fast food menu. However, salads can have hundreds of hidden calories if you’re not careful. Imagine you’re in a hurry and stop by the Wendy’s drive through. Would you choose a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger or a Chicken BLT Salad with honey Dijon dressing? If you said the salad you would be consuming over 790 calories and 1,665 milligrams of sodium, compared to the burger with about 400 calories, according to the website besthealthmag.com.

Salads seem to be a healthy alternative to a burger and fries until you start adding croutons and cheese which can add over 200 calories. If you add the honey Dijon dressing you have added over 150 calories with just one pack. For the healthiest salad, ask to hold the croutons and cheese and use a low-fat or lite dressing. Also, stay away from salads with dried fruit which have high calorie and sugar counts.

RESTAURANT

With all the delicious items on a restaurant menu, choosing the healthiest entrées can be difficult. Let’s say you sit down at Applebee’s and you are torn between the Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl and the Margarita Chicken with rice and vegetables, which do you choose? If you chose the bowl, you would be eating about 1,800 calories compared to 700 calories for the other, according to the book Eat This, Not That. The margarita chicken is grilled with a light salsa and served with a single serving of rice and steamed vegetables.

The best way to navigate a menu is to look for key words. Fried, sauced and breaded are all words you should avoid. To help keep your portions under control, ask for a to-go box as soon as your food arrives and go ahead and divide your meal in half. A third rule is the 1-plus-2 rule. Chose your entrée then chose two extras for your evening out. These extras include the complementary bread, an appetizer, dessert or an adult beverage.

At Home

Going out to eat is not the only place we fail to see the truth in our food choices. Sure, those Lean Cuisine meals seem like a good choice, but are those preservatives and sodium worth feeling hungry in an hour? It is time we go back into the kitchen and learn to create meals we love that are not only delicious but also healthy.

When cooking pasta dishes, try whole-wheat pasta or be really adventurous and try grated zucchini in place of pasta. When thinly grated, zucchini has a similar texture and taste as pasta. Instead of white potatoes, try using sweet potatoes. You can cook them like white potatoes, but they pack much more flavor and nutrients.

Try cutting them into thin strips and baking at 375 degrees for delicious sweet potatoes fries. A third switch out you can try is using large Portobello mushrooms in place of meat. The mushroom has a sturdy texture and a woody taste that will make a great burger substitute.