If you’re doing Atkins, it is possible to eat out at a restaurant and still lose weight. If you follow a few guidelines and plan ahead, there are plenty of low-carb options to choose from.
Order This, Not That
- For an appetizer, try Egg Drop Soup instead of Fried Wontons or an egg roll. The soup should be clear and thin, rather than thickened with cornstarch.
- Instead of Shrimp-, Pork-, Beef- or Chicken-Fried Rice, have a Sizzling Shrimp Platter. You may never go back to fried rice again.
- Substitute Steamed Tofu With Vegetables, or Beef With Chinese Mushrooms, for any of the noodle-based dishes. If it comes with a sauce, request it be served on the side.
- Rather than any of the sweet and sour dishes, try Stir-Fried Pork With Garlic Sauce (sauce on the side, of course).
- Instead of vegetable samosas, which are pastries, try Shahi Paneer, a homemade cheese in a creamy curried tomato sauce.
- Substitute roasted eggplant with onions and spices for any of the fritters, called pakora.
- Instead of the typical lentil or Mulligatawny soup, order a bowl of chicken Shorba, made with chicken, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and other spices.
- A vindaloo almost always contains potatoes. Get a tandoori dish instead.
- Enjoy a korma, which is meat in a cream sauce, as a replacement for any biryani, which is a rice dish.
- Substitute any curried meat dish for any of the dals (lentil, chickpea or bean dishes).
- Order meat or shrimp kebabs rather than a saag dish, which is prepared with spinach and spices, but heavily thickened with flour or another starch.
- Have a seafood salad instead of fried (and battered) calamari.
- Rather than an appetizer of fried mozzarella sticks, order mixed grilled vegetables or grilled portobello mushrooms.
- Instead of garlic bread, enjoy a salad of arugula and fennel with shaved Parmesan cheese.
- Order an antipasto platter (assorted meat, cheese and marinated vegetables), caponata (eggplant and caper salad) or most other salads instead of baked, bread-stuffed clams.
- Have an escarole or Stracciatella soup, an Italian version of egg-drop soup, instead of Fettuccine Alfredo.
- Enjoy one of the roasted or grilled seafood dishes instead of linguine with clam sauce or deep-fried calamari.
- Have a grilled chicken breast or pork loin in place of any risotto dish.
- Order Veal or Chicken Piccata or Scaloppini (with lemon and capers), instead of Veal, Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan.
- To end the meal, order caffè breve, made with half and half, instead of cappuccino, made with milk.
- For starters, you can’t go wrong with guacamole. It’s based on mashed avocado, which is flavorful and rich in fiber, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and other nutrients.
- Ask for jicama sticks for dipping instead of chips. A low-carb root vegetable, jicama is bland, slightly sweet and very crunchy. Its flavor and crisp bite wonderfully complement the rich texture of avocado.
- Instead of Stuffed Jalepeño Peppers or Chiles Rellenos, try grilled chicken wings.
- Instead of quesadillas, order Sopa de Albondigas, which is a meatball and vegetable soup.
- Are you a fan of Enchiladas Verdes? These tortillas are filled with spiced chicken and covered with a tangy green sauce of tomatillos and cilantro. Just ask for the chicken filling, minus the tortillas and topped with the sauce. It’s wonderful.
- You can have fajitas without the carbs. There’s hardly a Mexican restaurant north of the border that doesn’t serve Beef Fajitas, usually made with marinated skirt steak; many offer Chicken or Shrimp Fajitas, as well. Proper fajitas will come to your table sizzling, having been seared in an extremely hot skillet along with sliced onions, bell peppers, and sometimes slivers of one of the milder chile peppers. Just skip the tortillas and beans, and you’re good to go.
- Substitute a Jicama Salad for nachos. Replace any of the taco, tamale or enchilada platters with whatever grilled fish (pescado) is on the menu.
- Try Pollo Asado, grilled chicken, instead of Chimichangas or Flautas.
- Shrimp are even better in Camarones al Ajili, shrimp in garlic sauce, than they are in Shrimp Enchiladas.
- A fantastic substitute for any chicken-in-tortillas dish is turkey or chicken in a complex, dark, mole (pronounced “mo-lay”) sauce, based on ground cocoa beans.
- Rather than the bacon, onion and egg pie called an Alsatian Tart, try a Frisée Salad with thin strips of bacon and a poached egg.
- Enjoy Coquilles St. Jacques, scallops in a cream sauce topped with cheese, instead of lobster in puff pastry.
- While French Onion Soup is traditionally prepared topped with a large crouton of toasted bread under a layer of melted Gruyere cheese, you can request it without the bread. The flavor will still be remarkable.
- For Vichyssoise, the famous French cream of leek and potato soup, substitute mussels in a white-wine sauce or the equally famous fish stew called Bouillabaisse.
- Instead of Duck a l’Orange or aux Cerises, substitute Coq au Vin, which is chicken slowly simmered in a wine sauce. It’s fine as long as you pass on the potatoes that may be included.
- Order Entrecôte or Tournedos Bordelaise, steak in reduced shallot and red-wine sauce, instead of the egg-dipped, fried ham-and-cheese sandwich called Croque Monsieur.
- Rather than Veal Prince Orloff, which is roasted and stuffed with rice, onions and mushrooms, have the Veal Marengo, a stew with tomatoes and mushrooms.
- French leg of lamb is generally prepared by inserting slivers of garlic and rosemary into slits in the meat before roasting. It’s fragrant and delicious.
- Boeuf Bourguignon, one of the towering classics of French cuisine, consists of cubes of beef slowly simmered in red wine, beef stock, onions, garlic and herbs. It fits a healthy dining regimen, and the flavor is just about as Gallic as you can get.
- Instead of any potato dish, order buttered French green beans.
- For dessert, have a plate of some stunning French cheeses instead of Crêpes Suzette.
Here are some basic tips :
- Read the Menu Before You Go—This way you’ll know exactly what your low-carb options will be in advance.
- Have a Healthy Snack Before You Arrive—It’s easier to make smart choices off the menu if you’re not starving.
- Drink Water Before and During Your Meal—Very often, hunger can be mistaken for thirst. If you’re well hydrated, your tummy won’t be grumbling.
- Check How Food is Cooked and Prepared—Learn how to read a menu, and watch out for key words like crunchy, crispy, fried and smothered that might derail your meal.
- Try Eating Your Meal Mindfully—Slow down, chew thoroughly and savor your food and the experience versus rushing through your meal.
- Order Your Meal Before Everyone Else—If you’ve reviewed the menu in advance, and know what you want, order right away so you can avoid being influenced by your dinner companion who picks the deep-dish pizza or pile of pasta.
- Order Two Appetizers Instead of a Main Dish—This opens up your options, and can be just as satisfying as one big main dish.
- Have a Cup of Coffee Instead of Dessert—This is still a way to wind down after your meal, without all the carbs.
- Avoid All-You-Can-Eat Buffets—While an all-you-can-eat buffet may seem friendlier on your budget, it’s definitely not friendlier on your waistline.
- Ask to Make A Healthy Swap—Ask for a burger without a bun, request a side of veggies instead of French fries and ask for sauces or dressings on the side.
- Skip the Pre-Dinner Bread Bask et—Politely turn down the basket of bread or chips and salsa—Don’t even have them at your table, so you’re not tempted.
- Order a Salad to Start—You can’t go wrong with a salad; it’s a great way to get your veggies in and keep your appetite in check.
- Share with Someone Else—Control a restaurant’s supersize portions by sharing a dish with someone else or requesting a half order.