This time of year everyone is swept up in the whirlwind of parties and dining out with friends, colleagues and family. This can get tricky, especially when you’re trying to eat healthy.
However, eating at a restaurant doesn’t have to be an excuse to feast on as many cheat meals as you want. All you need to do is pick the right dish off the menu. Not sure what to order? Our nutritionists share their top picks to ensure you head into the New Year without sabotaging your healthy lifestyle.
Aditi’s pick: Grilled Chicken with Veggies
This will always be my go-to dish. It looks appealing, tastes fabulous and is one of the healthiest dishes you can order off a restaurant menu.
A grilled chicken breast is low in fat and rich in protein. The vegetables provide the fiber, and most restaurants offer a good mix of beans, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and zucchini, which cover most of the micronutrients as well. You can skip the side of garlic bread, and choose unsalted mashed potatoes instead, or eliminate it completely since this dish doesn’t require cereal or starch. Another plus point is that most restaurants offer a selection of sauces, so avoid anything with cream or cheese and ask for it to be served on the side.
Alpa’s pick: Paneer Shashlik Sizzler (Without Sauce)
Who doesn’t love a little drama on the plate? Sizzlers don’t just look yummy; they’re also packed with flavour and nutritional value. It’s a well-balanced meal that consists of carbs (rice), protein (paneer), fiber, vitamins and minerals (vegetables). The parboiled veggies retain more nutrients and fiber than their cooked counterparts, plus I enjoy their slightly charred yet crunchy flavour, which goes beautifully with the soft, creamy paneer. By asking the waiter to hold the sauce, you’ll cut down on calories while treating yourself to a delicious restaurant meal.
Hiral’s pick: Mediterranean Platter
This spread of whole-wheat pita bread, two to three varieties of Mediterranean dips including hummus and pickled veggies looks as good as it tastes and is guaranteed to leave you completely satiated.
The platter, which is quite easily available, is a well-balanced meal with the right amount of carbs, protein, fat and fiber. The hummus base, which is chickpeas (chana), is a rich source of protein and fiber, while the tahini and olive oil used as seasoning in this dish provide the heart-friendly fats. The vegetables source the vitamins and fiber, rounding off the healthy meal. The best part is that while it serves as a main dish it also doubles up as a shared appetiser.
Mehar’s pick: Yellow Moong Dal with Boiled Rice and Raita
It’s my favourite dish! And it’s also the simplest and safest option if you’re trying to order a healthy item off a restaurant menu. Dal-chawal-raita isn’t just a well-balanced and flavourful meal, it also covers your carbohydrate, protein and fat requirements. It’s loaded with the natural flavour and freshness of green chilli, lime, coriander and other great spices, most of which have digestive properties. What makes me favour this dish is its simplicity and the fact that it is close to my roots.
Nishita’s pick: Vegetable Whole Wheat Pasta with Pesto or Red Sauce
If you’re in the mood for Italian, this vegetable laden dish is the perfect healthy choice. A colourful feast for the eyes, it’s packed with the goodness of fiber, complex carbs, vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t contain too much oil, and is now widely prepared with olive oil, which is heart-friendly. Also, whole-wheat pasta contains two to three times as much fiber as compared to refined flour pasta.
Pragati’s pick: Chicken Pita Pockets
This wholesome meal not only tastes awesome, but packs a powerful nutritional punch as well. For starters, it contains roast chicken, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, feta and mint — all the colours you need to eat routinely. This dish uses Feta cheese, which is low on calories too. Full of proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals, it’s a great main course option.
Sapna’s pick: Grilled Chicken Sandwich
I’d recommend this because it’s yummy, keeps you feeling full for long and most restaurants rarely go wrong with its preparation. Chicken is a very good source of protein, and this style of preparation doesn’t require much oil. This dish is healthiest when paired with multigrain bread, which provide good carbs, and vegetables, that give you the much-needed vitamins and minerals.
Shagun’s pick: Blackened Pepper Basa Fish with Vegetables
It’s a dish that looks mouth-watering, tastes great and is super healthy too. The fish is packed with protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, while the sautéed vegetables served on the side provide important vitamins and minerals.
Sonia’s pick: Chicken Salad
This wholesome combination of roasted chicken, oregano, lemon and herbs is exquisite to the palate, and nutritious too. Rich in protein, iron and fiber (from the herbs), accompaniments such as green vegetables, olives, bell peppers and spring onions only boost its overall nutritional value. Ask for the dish to be prepared in olive oil, since it contains Omega-3 fatty acids.
Zainab’s pick: Paprika Chicken on Skewers with Salad
This is my all-time favourite dish as it’s delicious, wholesome and satisfies my food cravings in a healthy way. A low calorie meal, this dish is packed with good quality proteins as well the necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber from the vegetables. Balanced with just the right quantity of good quality fat from the olive oil, the dish is moderately spiced to satisfy the taste buds.
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