A Guide to Dining Out and Staying Healthy

Tips for Ordering Entrée and Sides

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go out to eat without blowing your healthy eating plan? We are all still waiting for those calories that were to be posted on the menu for chain restaurants in 2012.  Even when those rules go through, you still may not have nutrition information from your favorite local restaurants.  Ask your chef to post his/her nutrition information on our website http://houstonrd.org/ , so “healthy minded” diners will have a source to go to for the best menu options. Below are some tips to help you make the best menu choices.

  • Ask questions about recipe preparation and terms you are unfamiliar with on the menu. Ask what sides accompany your main dish.
  • Request food cooked without butter. A teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil is great for grilling side dishes, and a healthy fat option for cooking fish and other dishes.
  • Ask for sauces to be left off or put on the side.
  • Avoid fried meats or fish. If avoidance is not possible, peel off the coatings.
  • Ask how many ounces of meat are in an order. If the serving is over 6 oz., you may want to split a dish or take home the rest for another meal.
  • Suggest to the chef, fresh and dried herbs, fresh juices, and aromatics like onion and garlic be added for flavor in place of salt and fat.  Flavored vinegar gives food a tangy, salty taste without the salt.
  • Ask to substitute fruits and vegetables for fired or high fat sides.
  • Be discriminating, send food back that is not cooked the way you requested it.
  • If you want dessert, keep the portion size down by splitting it with friends.

                                 HEALTHY DINING BY CUISINE

Note high sodium (Na) items in red

The Better Choices Based on Calories

for Chinese/Asian Food Based on Approximations

*Egg drop soup, 1 cup = 73 cal., 892 mg Na

*Won-Ton soup, 1 cup = 125 cal., 770 mg Na

broth = 45 cal.

won ton, 2 = 80 cal.

(*1 tsp of sesame oil frequently added before serving; request omission)

Stir-fried meat/fish/poultry (non-breaded) and vegetables

average order = 2 cups

3 oz meat = 165 cal.

1 cup veg = 50 cal.

2 cups stir-fry = 90 cal.

Total = 295 cal. 1300 mg Na

Steamed Rice, ½ cup = 1.25 CHO (106 cal)

Asked for brown rice for more nutrition and fiber.

Steamed Dumplings, 1 = 135 cal.

Chinese crepes = 80 cal

Sauces are served on side for dipping.

Spring roll – 1 avg = 65 cal.

TIP: Ask chef to hold the sauces, and cut the oil in half.

Sodium in 2 T sauces: Soy Sauce = 1800 mg, Hoisin Sauce = 881 mg

Higher Calorie Choices

for Chinese/Asian Food Based on Approximations

Egg Roll, 1 avg = 215 cal

Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce, 1 Tbsp = 60 cal.

Fried Won Tons, 2 = 170 cal.

Egg Foo Yong, 1 cup = 240 cal., 660 mg Na

Chow Mein, 1 cup = 235 cal., 1274 mg Na

Duck, pressed, 6 oz. = 328 cal. 16.8 g fat

Sweet ‘n Sour, breaded and fried meat dishes with vegetables, 3 cups w/o rice = 1,007.5 cal., 3,486 mg Na

Fried Rice or noodles, 1 cup = 331 cal., 852 mg Na

Fried Dumplings (6) = 490 cal., 1800 mg Na

Shrimp with Lobster sauce, 2 cups = 550 cal., 3,387 mg Na

Szechuan style tends to be high-fat.

Lobster or black bean sauce, 1 Tbsp. (24 cal)

Fried meats and vegetable dishes


The Better Choices Based on Calories

for Japanese Food Based on Approximations

First, terms to know:

Spicy: Generally means that the roll combines hot chili sauce mixed  in with some fattening mayonnaise.                                          

 Crispy: Indicates that a portion of the roll, such as the meat or    the onions on top of it, have been fried in fattening oils, giving your roll a huge increase in extra calories

Tempura: Just a fancy name for deep-fried. They dip that shrimp or vegetables in fattening batter then deep-fry it making that roll about as healthy as a French fry.

Avocado Roll, 1 roll =140 cal.

Tuna Nigiri, 2 pieces over rice = 240 cal.

Pickled Ginger, 1 oz = 20 cal.

Sushi Rice, 1 cup = 198 cal.

Sashimi, 3 oz = 165 cal.

Miso soup, 1 cup = 87 cal., 571 mg Na

Tuna Roll, 1 roll=184 cal.

Cucumber Roll, 1 roll = 136 cal.

Nigiri-Sushi (Fish-wrapped Sushi), 1 piece = 30 cal.

Salmon Sashimi, 2 pieces (no rice) = 164 cal

Salmon and avocado roll, 2 pieces= 304 cal.*

*Yes, high in cal. but also high on nutrition. Skip the rice.

Higher Calorie Choices

for Japanese Food Based on Approximations

Tempura (deep-fried battered vegetables or seafood)

Tonkatsu (pork cutlet)

California Roll, 1 roll = 266 cal.

Philadelphia Roll = 319 cal., 12 g fat

Shrimp Tempura roll, 1 roll = 544 cal. 21 g of fat.

Spicy Tuna Roll, 1 roll = 290 cal. (request mayo be left off)

Spider Roll (fried soft-shell crab), 1 roll = 240 cal.

Additional choices:

Sashimi: Thinly sliced pieces of raw fish. All lean protein, minimal calories and no carbohydrates. This a great healthy alternative to traditional sushi rolls.

Nigiri: Pieces of raw fish on top of small bundles of rice.

Yakitori: Chicken, beef, pork or shrimp skewers normally offered as appetizers. They are a great start to your meal by offering you a lean protein with little fat, carbohydrates or calories.

The Better Choices Based on Calories

for Italian Food Based on Approximations

Italian salad with dressing on the side

Minestrone soup, 1 cup = 130 cal., 700 mg Na

Grilled veal chop, 6 oz = 230 cal.

Side order of pasta with plain red sauce, 1 cup = 190 cal.

Spaghetti with vegetables in mariana sauce (tomato sauce) or red clam sauce, 1 cup = 210 cal.

Steamed mussels with marina, 1 cup mussels, 1 cup sauce = 400 cal.

Anything piccata (sautéed in lemon)

Steamed artichoke, no butter, 1 medium = 95 cal.

Thin crust Margherita Pizza:   1 slice of a 14” = 190 cal.

Higher Calorie Choices

for Italian Food Based on Approximations

Antipasta, 8 oz. = 300 cal., 18 g fat, 1370 mg Na

Italian sausage, 6 oz. = 578 cal., 46 g fat, 2,024 mg Na

Garlic bread, 2 oz. = 298 cal., 16 g fat, 31 g carb.

Watch out for casserole combinations:

veal scallopine

veal or eggplant Parmigiana

Lasagna, 2 cups = 816 cal., 30 g fat, 86 g carbs, 1,822 mg Na.

Spaghetti with meat sauce, 2 cups = 547 cal., 23 g fat, 33 g carb., 2,349 mg Na

Meatball, 2 oz. = 150 cal.

Pizza with high-fat meat and cheese, 16 oz. = 910 cal., 39 g fat.

Primavera sauce, 1 cup = 479 cal.

Veal Parmigiana, 6 oz. = 350 cal., 20 g fat, 738 mg Na

Stuffed artichoke, 1 globe = 397 cal., 14 g fat, 54 g carb., 1037 mg sodium

Parmesan cheese sprinkling, ¼ cup = 100 cal

The Better Choices Based on Calories

for Steak and Seafood Based on Approximations

Lean steak cuts: T-bone, sirloin, London broil, petite filet

Petite Filet Mignon, “broiled dry”,  split order 4 oz = 220 cal.

Boiled shrimp as a main course = 7 cal. per shrimp

Higher Calorie Choices

for Steak and Seafood Based on Approximations

Prime rib, 6 oz. = 680 al. 57 g fat

Chicken-fried steak, 6 oz = 500 cal., 25 g fat

BBQ ribs, 1 med. Beef, short = 311 cal.

Battered and deep-fried seafood (ie oysters), 6 pieces = 368 cal., 18 g fat, 677 mg Na

French fries / onion rings, 15 = 233 cal.,

Tartar sauce, 2 Tbsp = 148 cal.

Creamy coleslaw, 1 cup = 195 cal.

The Better Choices Based on Calories

for Mexican Food Based on Approximations

Steamed corn tortillas, 6” = 52 calories

Solid cuts of meat

Fajitas, flank steak or poultry “broiled dry”

2 oz meat = 110 cal.

1 flour tortilla = 102.5 cal. (request whole grain)

pico de gallo = free

1 Tbsp sour cream (optional) = 22.5 cal.

Total per 1 Fajita = 235 cal.

Grilled chicken order “grilled dry” with skin removed before eating = 35 cal. per oz.

Carne Asada, 4 oz = 180 cal.

Chicken & Shrimp Shish kabobs (often not on menu, but several restaurants offer)

Tacos al carbon with high-fat accompaniments on the side or omitted, 3 oz. = 140 cal.

Dinner salad accompaniment (not on menu but usually available)

Taco salad with limited high fat ingredients

Light beer or wine spritzers, 8 fl. oz = 80 cal.

Spanish rice, ½ cup = 125 cal.

Charro beans, ½ cup = 135 cal.

Higher Calorie Choices

for Mexican Food Based on Approximations

Deep-fried, crispy corn tortillas = 125 cal.

Chips, 5-6 =125 cal.

“The works” nachos, 5 = 712.5 cal

Cheese enchilada, average order of 3 = 1177.5 cal.

Guacamole dip, ½ cup = 360 cal.

Refried beans, ½ cup = 125 cal. (order made w/o lard)

Chili Con Carne,1 cup = 246 cal.

Taco salad in crispy taco shell with the high fat ingredients (meat, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.)

½ cup cheese dip = 246 cal.

Margaritas, 12 oz = 430 cal.

The Better Choices Based on Calories

for Greek Food Based on Approximations

Avgolemono (lemon-chicken) soup, 1 cup =  125 cal.

Shish kabob (broiled or char. grilled “dry”)

Broiled red snapper, trout or other fish (“dry”), 6 oz = 225 cal.

Greek salad (dressing on the side) as an entrée

Avgolemono (lemon-chicken) soup, 1 cup = 125 cal.

Shish kabob (broiled or char. grilled “dry”)

Rack of lamb (trimmed, lean), 3 oz = 250 cal.

Higher Calorie Choices

for Greek Food Based on Approximations

Moussaka (layers of ground lamb or red meat, sliced eggplant and tomato, topped with a white sauce and baked), 1 piece = 810 cal.

Gyro (pita bread sandwich, mixture of compressed seasoned beef, lamb, bread crumbs, onions, roasted on a vertical spit = 760 cal, 2300 mg sodium

Baklava (sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with walnuts, pistachios and honey = 550 cal., 21g fat

Saganaki (flamed cheese), typical appetizer serv. = 484 cal., 36 g fat

Retsina (traditional Greek white wine), 1 oz =  90 cal.

 We hope this helps guide you to smart dining choices!

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