Eating out is a part of life now—specially with the festive season on. The more you eat out, the more likely you are to order items that are too sweet or deep-fried. In fact, every time you eat out, you will get bogged down with guilt, fretting over the extra calories, salt and grease you are wolfing down.
But it needn’t be like this because there are healthier options to order on almost every restaurant menu. “The key is that you don’t get tempted to choose the worst stuff,” says Sherly Ganesh, chief dietitian, Columbia Asia Hospital, Bangalore. “Don’t get carried away. For example avoid dishes that are fried, battered, creamy, pastry-based, cheesy or laden with butter. Opt instead for grilled, boiled, stir-fried, steamed or poached foods; also watch out for the accompanying sauces and ask for smaller portions (or have half).”
To make it easy for you, chefs and nutritionists’ pick their healthy options from five restaurants across India.
Get veggie power
Chef de cuisine Deepak Sarkar of TK’S Oriental Grill, Hyatt Regency, Delhi, picks Scottish Salmon Parcel, Shitake Mushroom, Leeks, Bean Sprout, Chef’s Special Miso Sauce as one of the healthy options on his restaurant’s menu. “This dish is not just tasty, it is light and looks very appealing too,” he says. Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical nutritionist, head of department—nutrition and dietetics, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore, gives it a thumbs up.
“Salmon is an excellent protein source, is loaded with Omega-3 and also offers a range of vitamins, and minerals, particularly calcium (great for bones). It is packed with vitamin D too, which will make your skin smile with health,” she says. “Another thing going for it are the assorted vegetables like leek, bean sprouts, which not just give the dish a good antioxidant cover, but also a lot of potassium (in the leeks), which helps keep the blood pressure in control,” she adds.
Take away: Order dishes with a substantial vegetable component to ensure a hefty dose of fibre and antioxidants.
Nutrient quotient per serving: 460 calories, 35g of protein and 4.5g of fibre.
Choose the right oil
Chef Vicky Ratnani of Aurus, Mumbai, a fine-dining European cuisine restaurant, picks Charmoula Grilled Chicken Breast with bean ragout as a super healthy choice from his menu. “This is cooked in olive oil, and the fact that the cooking method is grilled instead of fried makes it healthy. Plus I use chicken breast—the leanest part of the chicken—which is high in protein and low in fat, and I keep the meat skinless, lowering the fat content further,” he adds. Rohatgi agrees.
“Olive oil is a super healthy choice as the monounsaturated fatty acids (Mufa) it is rich in and the polyphenols and other antioxidants it is loaded with, help keep the heart healthy, cancer away and also fight diabetes and osteoporosis,” says Rohtagi. “Plus doing away with the skin definitely reduces the fat content and when opting for chicken, I’d definitely suggest choosing the breast as it is lowest in fat content. And the beans add optimum fibre too,” she adds.
Take away: Whenever possible ask for dishes cooked in olive oil and a lean portion of chicken or meat; this simple step can help keep your heart in good shape.
Nutrient quotient per serving: 410 calories, 55g protein and 6.7g fibre.
Pick a salad
Resident Thai chef Klae Somsuey and chef Saurav Banerjee of Baan Thai at The Oberoi Grand, Kolkata, pick Som Tam (raw papaya and peanut salad) from their menu. “This is a very light salad made of raw papaya, garlic and chillies and has a delicate blend of flavours. Plus its spicy taste suits the typical Indian palate rather well,” they say.
Ganesh feels this salad is perfect for those who are conscious about keeping their intake of fat low, as it is virtually fat free. “Plus raw papaya is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and is also a good source of dietary fibre and potassium, besides being loaded with vitamin A, which is an antioxidant and also great for the eyes,” she adds.
Take away: Keep the content of fat in the meal low by having healthy fibre-rich salads for some of the meals eaten out; these can be very satisfying, try them.
Nutrient quotient per serving: 240 calories, 5.5g protein and 5.5g fibre.
Choose sauteed over fried
Senior executive chef Shivanand Kain of the Italian restaurant, La Brezza with Enoteca, Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort, Greater Noida, picks Branzino Con Verdure (sea bass pan-cooked lightly in olive oil and served with an assortment of vegetables) from his menu as he feels that this traditional Italian dish represents a perfect balance between healthy and tasty food.
Sherly agrees: “This dish is high in protein and fibre and it is a perfect heart food designed to keep your arteries in good shape and reduce inflammation.” It is a good dish where the fish provides the essential Omega-3 fatty acids and protein and the assorted vegetables add the fibre and necessary vitamins and minerals. “Baby carrot in it is loaded with vitamin A, which will keep your eyes in good shape and again this Italian recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil, which is extremely healthy,” she adds.
Take away: Always opt for lightly sauteed, tandoori, steamed or grilled dishes (and not fried) to ensure that both the calorie and fat content are on the lower side.
Nutrient quotient per serving: 630 calories, 47.5g protein and 3.5g fibre.
Consider the ingredients
Executive chef and partner Manu Chandra of Olive Beach, Bangalore, believes in the power of fresh flavours and herbs. He picks Wine Cured Grape and Goat Cheese Salad. “The lettuce used for this salad, arugula, is a fabulously good source of roughage. The dressing is yogurt based, which keeps the flavour and texture subtle. The grapes are lightly brined and don’t lose their inherent nutrients. Ripe goat cheese instead of processed cheese is a deliberate choice as it has good bacteria which aids in easy digestion and keeps the gut healthy,” he elaborates.
Ganesh agrees to all that and adds that the dish also has a lot of potassium, which is great for the heart and keeps the blood pressure in control. “Plus the walnuts add a lot of antioxidants, and the goat cheese besides having a fabulous texture, is easily digestible and has lower amount of cholesterol compared to other cheeses,” she adds.
Take away: Choose wisely (unprocessed cheese over processed cheese), deliberate a bit, always consider the health benefit the food is offering (antioxidants, vitamins, fibre)—and then order.
Nutrient quotient per serving: 590 calories, 15g protein, and 4.6g fibre.
*All nutrition counts are approximate.
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