How To Eat Well In An Indian Restaurant

Indian meal VeraswamyWalk into an Asian Indian restaurant and the rich aroma will warmly welcome you in. The mingling of exotic spices such as curry, cardamom, clove and turmeric propels Indian food into a unique and distinctive flavor unlike any other. The rich bouquet of this cuisine permeates the delicious dishes resulting in a wonderful culinary experience you won’t forget. If you’ve had the pleasure to enjoy Indian food, you know what I mean. If you have not had the pleasure, you are truly missing out on a real treat. Don’t be afraid to try this cuisine because you don’t fare well with spicy food. Simply ask for your food to be prepared “not spicy.” Unlike many ethnic cusines, Indian food can be ordered to the degree of spiciness you prefer. So definitely put this cuisine on your bucket list and GO!

Below you will find an overview of a standard Indian menu along with how this cuisine can fit into a variety of diets.

Overview of an Indian Restaurant Menu

Appetizers
Onion bhajia:  A mixture of gramflour, onions, fresh coriander and cumin deep fried.

Aloo channa poori: Spicy chickpeas & potato served with tamarind chutney & a poori.

Samosa: Vegetable or spiced minced lamb deep fried pastry parcels

Prawn Poori: King prawns in a light sauce served wth a poori

Haryali tikka: Chicken marinated in green herbs and hot spices cooked in the tandoor.

Sheekh kebab: Lean minced lamb spiced with green chillies and onions grilled in the tandoor.

Chicken Saslick: /Chicken breast pieces cooked with peppers & onions in the tandoor

Mains Dishes

Murgh Tikka Masala:  Chargrilled chicken marinated in fresh ginger & garlic then simmered in a sauce of tomatoes, butter and cream

Murgh Jalfrezi: Chicken breast pieces stir fried in special hot spices, with onions, tomatoes, green & red peppers

Murgh Korma: Chicken in a mild cream, coconut & cashew sauce

Murgh Chilli Masala: Chicken in a tomato sauce with ginger, garlic & shredded fresh green chillies

Nilgiri Murgh: Tender Chicken pieces cooked in fresh coriander, mint, garlic & ginger sauce

Saagwala Gosht: Lamb cooked with garlic, ginger, onions & spinach

Garlic Chilli Prawns: King Prawns in a chilli & garlic sauce with spring onions

Goan Fish Curry: Tilapia fish curry cooked in a hot spicy coconut cream sauce

Karai Paneer: Juicy chunks of paneer in a tomato, onion & green chilli sauce with green herbs

Tarka Daal: Lentils tempered with onions & spices

Daal Makhani: Black lentils simmered slowly with kidney beans & cream

Biryanis: An elaborate dish of rice with spiced lamb, chicken or vegetables with nuts & sultanas, sprinkled with saffron. Served with yogurt or vegetable sauce. May be made with either chicken, lamb or vegetable.

Sides
Channa Masala: Chickpeas with ginger, garlic & spices

Saag Paneer: Paneer (similar to large curd cottage cheese) with finely shredded spinach

Aloo Ki Subz: Potatoes in an onion & tomato sauce with cumin

Brinjal Aloo: Eggplant and potatoes with cumin & fennel seeds

Rice & Breads
Naan: Traditional leavened bread baked with refined flour, eggs and milk.

Garlic naan:  Traditional leavened bread baked with refined flour, eggs, garlic and milk.

Peshauri Naan: Stuffed with ground almonds, cashews & coconut

Tandoori Roti: Light unleavened bread

Paratha: Layered flat bread made with whole wheat flour and butter.

Pilau Rice: Basmati rice seasoned with cloved, cinnamon, mace & cardamoms

Saffron Rice: Basmati rice flavored with saffron

Meal Suggestions For Your Special Diet

  1. Diabetes-Friendly Dishes: Limit your intake of rice to one cup or less. One cup of rice is 45 grams (or 3 exchanges) of carbohydrate. Try the daal, which is made from lentils and is high in fiber. The vegetable, fish and chicken dishes are all great choices. If you order bread, limit to one or two small servings.
  2. Heart-Healthy Dishes: Choose any of the vegetable, chicken or fish dishes. Ask for your entree to be made without cream or ghee.
  3. Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly Dishes: Choose any of the vegetable dishes if you are vegetarian. For those who are vegan, request that your vegetable dish be made with out ghee, cream or cheese (paneer). Chana masala and daal are terrific dishes for plant-based eaters. It’s so easy in an Indian restaurant!
  4. Gluten-Free: Most dishes are gluten-free. Avoid the naan, paratha, roti and other breads and desserts made with wheat flour.

Five Tips for Eating Well in an Indian Restaurant

  1. Limit the rice to one cup or less at your meal.

2. Ask that your food be cooked without ghee (clarified butter) to reduce calories and saturated    fat.

3. Enjoy a variety of vegetable dishes for healthy fiber and enhanced satiety.

4. Have a soothing cup of tea for dessert. If you desire something sweet, share it with your companions.

5. As long as you go easy on the rice and bread, Indian cuisine is quite healthy. Enjoy!

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 The Outstanding Dietitian Of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is the author of the e-book The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed book The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa is a nutrition specialist in weight management, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. She is in private practice with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Contact Lisa at eatwellrd@yahoo.com or visit here.

 

Four TOP Tips To Avoid The Flu

fruit stand in IsraelFlu season is here! Why wait until it creeps up on you when you can follow some key strategies to help avoid it. Having a strong immune system can help you feel great and stay healthy. So plan your strategy and do your best to stay well this season. Getting sick means missing work, having to cancel upcoming  social activities and impending travel plans. So make the right choices and stay healthy. Here are four tried and true tips for beating the nasty flu. To your health!

1. Eat foods that boost your immunity. Foods that will help keep the flu away include almonds, mushrooms, fruits high in vitamin C such as strawberries, tomatoes, mangoes, oranges and grapefruits, fermented foods, which contain probiotics, such as yogurt with live cultures, kimchi or miso, green tea, kombucha, and pickles. Include at least a few of these foods in your daily diet. At breakfast, enjoy an orange or a small pink grapefruit along with your cereal or yogurt. At lunch, try an almond butter sandwich with a cup of green tea. At dinner, a grilled portobello mushroom burger or a bowl of steamy mushroom soup are two great ways to wind down your day.

2. Get enough zzz’s! Sleep impacts your immunity ,so don’t try to cut your sleep time short. Teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep daily while adults can manage well with 7 to 8. Just like you would put work and the gym on your daily schedule, don’t forget to pencil in sleep!

3. Exercise! A good workout will reduce your chances of getting sick. Aim to exercise at least five times per week. If you can’t get to the gym, workout with an app or grab your pedometer (aim for 10,000 steps per day) and go for a walk.

4. Wash your hands. Keep germs at bay by washing your hands frequently throughout the day.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as 2015 The Outstanding Dietitian Of The Year by The New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is the author of the e-book The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and the widely-acclaimed book The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa is a nutrition specialist in weight management, travel nutrition and diabetes for teens and adults. She is in private practice with offices in Huntington, NY and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Contact Lisa at eatwellrd@yahoo.com or for more info: www.lisastollmanrd.com.

How to Eat Well in a Persian Restaurant

Chicken Kebabs and RiceIf you have never had the pleasure to enjoy a meal in an Iranian or Persian restaurant, you should add it to your bucket list and  make a plan to go without delay. If you’ve experienced this cuisine, you’ll never forget the wonderful flavors and fragrances that permeate this delectable food. Persian food includes a wide variety of vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, rice dishes and combinations of herbs and spices that are unique to this cuisine, including cinnamon, sumac, saffron, and cumin.  Many of the foods are grilled, making it a healthy  choice for most. Like other Middle Eastern countries, the food of Persia has been influenced by its’ neighbors and conquered regions at various stages throughout its’ history. Thus there has been shared culinary influences to and from Turkish, Mesopotamian, Levantine, Greek and Central Asian cuisines, with smaller touches from Russian cuisine. Persians love their rice, so you will also see a vareity of rice dishes available to accompany the main course. The rice with sweet and sour cherries ( Abdalo Polo) is a MUST. You shoould definitely not miss this fabulous dish!

Dishes You Will Likely See On A Persian Menu

Appetizers
Kashk-Bademjan: Cooked eggplant in homeade tomato sauce topped with yogurt
Mirza Ghasemi: Mashed grilled eggplant with tomato, garlic & egg
Dolmeh: Grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs
Humus: Crushed chickpeas, tahini paste & seasoning
Babaganoosh: Baked eggplant with tahini paste, garlic & seasoning
Sambuseh: Crispy fried dumplings stuffed with chickpeas & herbs; served with spicy chutney
Stuffed Pepper: Green pepper stuffed with ground lamb, rice & herbs, slowly simmering with light tomato sauce
Salad Olovieh: Chicken & potato salad with eggs, green peas & carrots

Kebobs
Vegetarian Kebob: An assortment of grilled vegetables served with humus                                      Fish Kebob: Usually salmo,n char-grilled with spices                                                                              Chicken Shish Kebob: cubes of marinated boneless chicken;char-grilled                                             Jujeh Kebob: Pieces of bone in Cornish hen in lemon saffron marinade; char-grilled
Koobideh Kebob: Skewers of chopped beef; char-grilled
Beef Shish Kebob: Cubes of Angus beef lightly marinated & char-grilled
Lamb Shish Kebob: Cubes of marinated boneless baby lamb; char-grilled

Accompaniments
Mast Khiar: Homemade yogurt mixed with cucumbers& mint
Mast Esfenaj: Homemade yogurt mixed with sautéed spinach & garlic
Panir Sabzi: Fresh basil, tarragon, mint, radish, scallions & feta cheese
Torshi: A traditional Persian mix of chopped pickled vegetables                                            Mediterranean Chopped Salad: Usually includes chopped tomato, cucumber, green pepper, parsley, lemon and olive oil.

Tips for Eating  Well in a Persian Restaurant

It’s easy to make good choices in a Persian restaurant as the entrees all tend to be grilled.

  1. Portions tend to be large, so sharing is ideal. The platters of rice tend to be quite big, so it’s wise to order just one plate or rice for two to four people.
  2. A good way to start the meal is with a plate of the various dips. This will provide you a taste of many flavors, all to be enjoyed with the delicious pita bread.
  3. For dessert, share one serving of baklava or ask for fresh fruit.
  4. Try mint tea to accompany your meal as a healthy alternative to soda or alcohol.

Tips For Various Health Issues

If you are trying to lose weight: Opt for grilled vegetable, fish or chicken kebab. Ask for extra vegetables in place of the rice. Or share one plate of rice with the table. As all portions are usually large, consider sharing your main course if you are also having an appetizer.

If you have heart disease or high cholesterol: Choose the vegetable or fish kebab as these are the lowest in saturated fat. If they have salmon, that’s an excellent choice.  For an appetizer, the humus, babaganoosh or salad would all be ideal. The yogurt is made from whole milk, so it will be high in saturated fat. Share with the table if you would like to try it.

If you are vegetarian or vegan: Choose the vegetable kebab as your main dish. There are many side dishes that are vegetarian and/or vegan. If you are vegan, try the humus or babaganoosh. Most salads are also vegan. You can always ask for the cheese to be deleted. For vegetarians, there are many yogurt dips to also partake. These pair well with the delicious pita bread on the table.

If you have prediabetes or diabetes: All of the kebabs are good choices. To lower the glycemic index of the meal, ask for vegetables in place of the rice. When it comes to dessert, if you desire something sweet, ask for fresh fruit. Mint tea is a great way to end the meal. It also promotes healthy digestion.

Favorite Persian Restaurants in NYC

Just in case you’re planning a trip to NYC in the near future, here are our fave picks. Enjoy!

Revagh

Persepolis

Colbeh

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures, and meeting interesting people. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here.

How to Eat Well in a Greek Restaurant

Greek_SaladWhether eating at a taverna in Santorini or enjoying a delicious Greek meal in your locale, this healthy plant-laden Mediterranean cuisine is a pleasure you must experience for yourself. Heavy on foods grown from the earth: lucious red tomatoes, freshly picked and pungent oregano and thyme, shiny and firm purple eggplants and fragrant olive oil. Salty, tangy Feta cheese sliced atop bowls of Greek salad. This is the food of Gods. This is Greek food. Visit a Greek restaurant and the variety of dishes offered is mind-boggling. Greeks love to cook and it shows! There are so many fabulous dishes to try, but if you aren’t familiar with traditional Greek food, you may be unsure of what to request. Whether you just want a traditional dish, such as Spanikopita, or have special dietary needs, such as vegetarian, diabetes, or high cholesterol, you can find something healthy and quite tasty . So let’s visit a Greek menu and give you some ideas for your next visit to either Greece or your local Greek restaurant. Opa!

Overview of Traditional Greek Menu Fare

Greek cuisine includes a wide variety of vegetable dishes, grilled fish and meats. The Greek diet makes wide use of olive oil, lemon juice, vegetables and herbs, grains and bread (they love pita bread!), wine, fish, and various meats, including lamb, poultry, rabbit and pork. Also important are olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, artichokes, tomatoes, cucumbers, and yogurt.  Some dishes use phyllo pastry. Greeks also love their lemon potatoes and rice. Greek desserts are characterized by the wide use of nuts and honey. If you choose wisely, it’s quite easy to have both a delicious and healthy meal.

Heart-Healthy Meals:  Grilled Octopus, Grilled Fish, Grilled Vegetables, Garides with Feta cheese (large grilled shrimp cooked en casserole with Feta), Greek Salad, Horiatiki Salad, Horta (Dandelion greens sauté with olive oil and garlic).  If you have a history of heart disease, go easy on the red meat and cheeses. Enjoy more vegetable and grilled fish meals.

Diabetes-Friendly Meals: Dishes rich in vegetables and seafood should be at the top of this list. Greek salad, Vegetable Mousakka, grilled Octupus and fish. Poultry and lean meats. Pay attention to portions of rice and potatoes. Limit to I cup of starchy vegetable or grain per meal. If you want dessert, share with the table and have just a couple bites. Go for a walk after your meal to help lower you blood glucose.

Vegan and Vegetarian Fare:  Gigante beans (vegan) known as Butter beans in the States, Spanikopita—traditional spinach and Feta pie baked in phyllo dough (vegetarian–contains butter and Feta cheese), Lentil soup, Meze Platter (vegetarian–includes tzaziki (yogurt and cucumber). To make it vegan, request extra hummus in place of the yogurt. Vegetarian Mousakka is a delicious vegetarian dish consisting of vegetables cooked en casserole topped with a Bechamel sauce.

Five Tips for Eating Well in a Greek Restaurant

  1. Avoid fried foods, such as fried calamari and fried fish. Choose grilled or broiled fish and meats.
  2. Start the meal with a Meze platter ( a tasting plate of various dips, usually including, but not limited to, hummous, babaganoush, taramasolata (caviar with yogurt dip) and tzatziki (cucumber with garlic and yogurt), or a Greek salad (romaine lettuce with tomatoes, cucumber, grape leaves, olives and Feta cheese) or Horiatiki salad (a Greek salad sans lettuce).  A Meze platter can also be a meal for one person or have it along with a Greek salad for a party of two.
  3. If you are vegetarian or vegan, the protein- and fiber-packed Gigante beans (traditionally cooked in a rich tomto sauce) can serve as a dinner meal, paired with a Greek salad (sans the cheese if vegan) or a vegetable side.
  4. Baklava, a delicious pastry of phyllo dough, nuts, and honey is a mainstay of many Greek restaurants. It’s delicious, but quite rich. So order just one for the table.
  5. Portions can be large. Ask for a take-away box and bring half the meal home. Makes for an easy lunch or dinner the next day.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures, and meeting interesting people. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here.

How to Eat Well in a Chinese Restaurant

Yao pic1

Heavy on vegetables and lean protein, Chinese food is an Asian cuisine that can fit into a healthy diet. However, it often gets a bad rap as it’s notoriously known for it’s high salt content. As for those delicious sauces and steaming bowls of soup, they account for the majority of the added salt. But the emphasis of vegetables in the various dishes have many health benefits that make Chinese cuisine a healthy option when dining out. Think platter of large mushrooms, Bok choy, Chinese broccoli, Lotus root and eggplant. These vegetables are loaded with potassium and antioxidants. And vegetables are great if you’re trying to slim down. As for the rice, try to limit to 1 cup, as this amount packs in 240 calories. Better yet, order the brown rice, which has the same calories, but contains fiber and more B vitamins. For those with high blood pressure or salt sensitivity, either learn how to prepare this cuisine at home using less sodium, or manage your health when dining out and request steamed dishes with sauce on the side. And, of course, use the sauce sparingly. Check out the five tips below ro help you order healthier fare at your favorite Chinese spot.                                                                        

Five Tips For Choosing Healthy Chinese Dishes

  1. Ask your server to have your meal steamed with only a small amount of sauce or have sauce served on the side.
  2. Choose vegetable dishes with either tofu, seafood, or chicken as the protein source.
  3.  Limit dishes served with red meat: beef, lamb, veal or pork.
  4. Avoid fried dishes and fatty meats, such as General Tsao’s Chicken, spare ribs, and fried rice. You’ll be saving an abundance of calories, as well as fat.
  5. If you have high blood pressure, avoid the soup. Order sauces on the side.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures, and meeting interesting people. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here.

Cutting The Salt When Traveling Abroad

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Whether you should reduce your salt intake due to high blood pressure, congestive heart failure or you’re just simply “salt-sensitive,” meaning after consuming a salty meal you have a spike in your blood pressure which then levels out to your normal, you should be aware of the salt content of your food. Even if your blood pressure is controlled with medication, excess sodium can hinder their effectiveness.  Overtime, either spikes or a consistently high blood pressure can cause damage to your arteries. In actuality, all of us would benefit from some salt (aka sodium chloride) reduction in our lives, especially if our diet is largely composed of processed, pre-packaged foods or if we eat out often. Quite often when people travel, they tell themselves they’re on vacation and let their diet restrictions fly out the window. And eat whatever their palate chooses. But you want to enjoy your trip and feel well at the same time. Who wants to end up sick and, heaven forbid, at the hospital while on a trip? Don’t cut your trip short because you don’t feel well. Taking care of your health should be something you do daily, not only at certain times of the year. Traveling the world while eating less salt may seem utterly impossible. But it can be done. All types of cuisines have regional dishes that are delicious, but lower in salt.

Sodium is a preservative so it will be found in higher amounts in canned foods, convenience foods, and the majority of boxed, pre-packaged food as opposed to fresh foods. When you eat meals out, you have little control over the ingredients used or cooking methods. The majority of fast service restaurants receive ingredients frozen and pre-seasoned, thus equating to high sodium content. The answer then lies in preparing most of your meals at home using fresh, minimally processed ingredients. Easy to do at home, more difficult when you’re traveling. Breakfast is one meal that is easy to have less salt. Think fresh fruit, yogurt or peanut butter, whole wheat toast and soft-boiled eggs. Try it next time at the hotel buffet!

 Here are a few tips to help you cut the salt while traveling:
1. Choose local restaurants. Avoid the chains. Luckily in Europe this is an easier task than in the states. Local restaurants are more likely to serve fresh produce and meats, perhaps even locally sourced. Local restaurants are more likely to cook to order so the chef has more leeway in how the food is prepared and will be more accommodating to special requests you make to cut the salt.
2. Make special requests when ordering. Ask for sauce to be served on the side so you have control over the amount. For salad dressings, opt for olive oil and vinegar or lemon (which in Europe is most often the main option). Ask for no salt added during the preparation of your meal. Choose freshly baked, grilled, broiled meats instead of casseroles which are pre-made and likely contain salt added as a seasoning. For an even healthier option, order a grilled vegetable plate as your main course.
3. Choose side dishes such as fresh vegetables, fruit, baked potatoes or salads. Avoid sides coated in sauces, fried or casserole-like such as macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. When traveling abroad, take the time to learn key phrases to use when ordering. For one it’s a sign of respect and your requests will more likely be met.

Additional Tips Based on Country
Italy:
For salad dressing, eat like the Italians and simply use olive oil and lemon or vinegar. Same goes for condiments; olive oil is really the only condiment to accompany meals. Bread is served before the meal is delivered, but Italians eat the bread with the meal so you should, too. This will help reduce your intake.

Foods to include: Fresh salads, Caprese salad,  grilled vegetables. Fresh fruit.  Pasta Primavera. Fresh pasta with Marinara sauce (tomato sauce), pesto or garlic and olive oil. Grilled fish and seafood. Grilled lean meats and chicken.

Foods to avoid or minimize: Cured meats. These include dried sausage, sopressa, prosciutto, mortadella, salt pork, spalla, lardo, pancetta, spec, culatello. You will see an abundance of these cured meats all over the menus in Italy, so either avoid or just eat very small servings. And go easy on the cheese for pasta and pizza.

Spain:
The culinary traditions of Spain include locally grown produce, ham, seafood and fish, eggs, beans, rice, nuts (almonds), cheeses and bread (crusty white bread). Food is often prepared using olive oil and garlic.

Foods to include: Fresh salads. Use olive oil and lemon for dressing. Paella is a popular Spanish stew-like dish composed of rice, broth, onion, garlic, wine, sweet peppers, saffron and a variety of mix-ins such as shellfish, chorizo (sausage), vegetables, chicken or rabbit. When choosing this dish, avoid the chorizo to cut the salt. Gazpacho  (cold tomato soup),  Tortilla Espanola (Spanish omelet), grilled fish and shellfish are all excellent choices.

Foods to avoid or minimize: jambon (ham), cheeses, bacalao (dried salted fish) olives (healthy but high in salt. Go easy!)

Greece:
The bulk of the diet is fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, seafood and bread. Due to the long coastline, the Greek diet is heavy in fish and seafood with meat typically used as an ingredient rather than the focus of the dish. As you move inland the diet becomes heavier in meats and cheeses. Some staples include olives, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, lentils, beans, lemons, nuts, honey, yogurt, feta, eggs, chicken and lamb. Olives and feta are quite salty, so limit the amount you consume.
Foods to include: Dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice and/or lamb), Greek salad, Horiatiki salad (cucumbers and tomatoes), Gigante beans, Hummus, Gilled octopus, Horta (dandelion greens), Spanikopita (spinach pie), Grilled fish and shellfish, Moussaka (meat and eggplant dish), Souvlaki (lamb or chicken on skewer), baklava (nut and honey pastry in layers of thin dough called phyllo. For the healthiest dessert, fruit is the best option.

Foods to avoid or minimize: Feta cheese is high in salt, so go easy. Casserole dishes may be high in salt. The olives are delicious, but also high in salt so limit your intake.
France:
Fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, cheese and meat make up the bulk of the French diet. The baguette – a thin loaf of crusty bread is a staple. Crepes (thin pancakes) would be a low sodium option.On the coastline seafood makes up many dishes such as mussels, oysters, clams, shrimp, squid. Escargots (snails) cooked with butter, garlic; rabbit and roasted duck are characteristic of French cooking. Choose these fresh meats over the casseroles or cheese-laden dishes.

Foods to include: Fresh salads, Salad Nicoise’, Goat Cheese salad, sautéed vegetables, Grilled and sautéed fish and shellfish, Coq au Vin (chicken cooked in wine), Roasted chicken. Lower sodium cheeses, such as Goat cheese, Brie and Mascarpone are fine.

Foods to minimize or avoid: La choucroute (cabbage dish with sausage) will be high in sodium due to the sausage. Mussels and oysters are delicious in France, but they are high is sodium. So, again, go easy. Share a dish with your mate.  Cheese, which is usually high in sodium,  has a important role in most meals so try to limit your intake. If eating fondue, skip the cheese course.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods, cultures and meeting interesting people. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012). Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here. Special thanks to Lauren Zimmerman, MS, RDN for her contributions to this blog post.

Traveling Abroad With Gout

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Anyone who suffers with gout knows how frustratingly painful it can be. This may prove to be especially true for people who are passionate travelers that don’t like their trip to be burdened by the physical symptoms that gout may affect them with.

How does gout occur?  Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines — substances that are found naturally in your body, as well as in certain foods, such as red meat, organ meats and seafood. Other foods also promote higher levels of uric acid, such as alcoholic beverages, especially beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose). Normally, uric acid dissolves in your blood and passes through your kidneys into your urine. But sometimes your body either produces too much uric acid or your kidneys excrete too little uric acid. When this happens, uric acid can build up, forming sharp, needle-like urate crystals in a joint or surrounding tissue that cause pain, inflammation and swelling. Including or omitting certain foods while traveling may be helpful in controlling symptoms. In addition, if you have issues with weight management or poorly-controlled Type 2 diabetes, meet with a Registered Dietitian Nutrition (RDN) before you embark on your journey, to help you get your diet in good control.

When it comes to foods that could help symptoms, it is generally recommended to follow a healthful diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and limited in animal protein, such as meat, fish, and chicken. Alcohol should be avoided or limited within individual tolerance. Other foods to avoid include organ and glandular meats including liver, kidney, and sweetbread (thyroid gland and pancreas); certain seafoods including anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops and  mackerel. The beer, seafood, and organ and glandular meats have potential to increase the production of  uric acid. Coffee, in moderation, along with low fat dairy  (cheese, milk and yogurt) may help reduce gout symptoms. By being a little strategic while exploring different countries, you can use food to help minimize your symptoms in the efforts to optimize your European adventure! Below are breakdowns of “To Eat and Not To Eat” in the following countries.

FRANCE:

To Eat: Available and popular fruits and vegetables: Artichokes, pears, apples, asparagus, strawberries, fennel, chard, and grapes. Look for them in ratatouille and fresh salads When sampling cheese in a courtyard patio, ask for breads that are whole grain or at least multi-grain so you can include some fiber in your late-afternoon snack. Having that quintessential cappuccino could also prove to be beneficial.

Not To Eat:  A very important dish to avoid is unfortunately a very typical French food: pate’ de fois gras, which is duck liver pate’. Liver is an organ meat that should be avoided when attempting to limit uric acid production in the body. Avoid the aforementioned seafood as well. In the efforts to reduce your intake of saturated fats, try to keep from indulging in one of France’s buttery, creamy sauces more than once a day.

SPAIN:

To Eat: Common vegetables include piquillo peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, onions, eggplant, spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, and mushrooms. You can find them in stews, soups, and paella. Fruit is a typical dessert in Spain, and popular fruits include apples, oranges, grapes, cherries, dates, and figs. Spain is home to some of the best olive oil in the world. Embrace dietary fat sources from this olive oil in lieu of butter or butter-based sauces.

Not To Eat:  Avoid seafood paella, or have a very small amount, as it tends to have mussels and different seafood sources. The ingredients are mixed in and bite-sized, so it’s not always easy to identify the seafood the paella is prepared with. Stick to the vegetable paella –-I promise it’s just as good! Popular seafood in Spain that should be minimized: anchovies, sardines, and mussels

ITALY

To Eat: Vegetables are such a staple in Italian cuisine. Popular ones include tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, eggplants, cabbage, zucchini, artichokes, broccoli, and leafy greens. They are very easy to find in pasta dishes, risottos, pizzas, or in salads, soups and/or antipasti (appetizers). To consume more fiber in the efforts to stay energized and regular, ask for your pizza or bread to be made with whole wheat flour. Italians also eat fruit regularly for dessert, including grapes, berries, citrus fruits, and figs. Fish is a large commodity here, maintaining Italy as one of the base countries in the esteemed healthy fish-focused Mediterranean Diet. There are still plenty of fish you can enjoy here, including swordfish, cod, salmon, crab, and squid. You can find fish everywhere – alone as a grilled or baked entrée, or mixed in with stews and pasta dishes.

To Not Eat: The biggest off-limit foods in Italy are the following seafood: anchovies, sardines, and mussels.

If you minimize the foods high in purine, you may find that you can enjoy your time abroad to the fullest. Bon voyage!

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods, cultures and people. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012).. Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here. Special thanks to Samantha Marks, BS, DTR for her contributions to this blog post.

5 Tips For Eating Less Sugar

Silver scoop of sugar, spilling onto blue surface.

For most of us when we get a craving, it’s for sugar. Whether for a quick “pick-me-up,” a mid-afternoon treat, a late-night indulgence or –yep– that time of the month, something sweet surely makes the top of the list! Even at birth, babies prefer the taste of sweet over any other. Why does this happen? Sugar stimulates the release of the body’s “feel good chemical” serotonin, which calms and relaxes us. However, after eating the bag of jelly beans, this feeling of immense pleasure quickly plummets as your insulin level increases and hustles the sugar into your cells, ultimately dropping your blood sugar. And then the craving rebounds, and you want more sugar! If you are one of these people who constantly craves sweets, you may want to consider how often you indulge. Think about it. We have all heard people say “I’m just not a dessert person.” This is because they don’t regularly eat sweets. On the contrary, those who are “regular sugar-cravers” consume more than their fair share. Simply put, the more you eat, the more you crave. The problem with sugar is not when you have an occasional sweet food, but when you eat excessive sugar. And that is easy to do as sugar is added to many processed foods, including bread, yogurt, juices, cereals and sauces.

FYI: According to a report from the 2005–10 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), Americans eat about 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day . Teens and men consume the most added sugars. Average daily consumption for men: 21 teaspoons,  boys: 23 teaspoons, women: 14 teaspoons, , girls:  18 teaspoons. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to about 6 teaspoons per day for children and women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.

Next time you pick up a candy bar, pay attention to how you feel after you eat it. How is your energy level? Are you truly satisfied or still hungry? Are you craving more? When trying to adapt to a healthy way of eating, it can be a “real eye-opener” if you just take a few minutes to observe how your body feels and the cues it’s providing. So what can you do to satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing the sugar? Have no fear! Your sugar cravings can be controlled. The key is to be mindful when choosing sweets. Have a variety of go-to sweet snacks that won’t break the calorie bank. When you have a craving for sweets, sometimes you can find ways to not give in. Going for a walk, a relaxing cup of Chai tea or picking up a good book can take your mind off the need for a sweet. But when that fails, you need a backup plan!

Here are a list of suggestion to help you stay in control while feeding your sweet tooth:

1. Choose fruit. The healthiest “hands-down” sweet food is fruit. If a sweet dish of pineapple, strawberries, mango, or other fruit will do the trick, this is truly the best choice. You will get a nice burst of energy, but due to the fiber your blood sugar will be more stable and not drop quickly. Keeping fresh or frozen fruit always available is a great way to feed your sweet tooth and stay on track with your healthy eating routine.

2. Keep to your meal routine. Eating every three to five hours throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar stable and decrease your urge for the sweet stuff. Enjoying a serving of fruit with each meal will further decrease your sweet tooth and keep you energized.

3. Combine your sweet with a healthy protein, such as nuts or low fat cheese, or complex carbohydrate, such as fruit or whole grain cereal to avoid the spikes and plummets that leave you wanting more. Maybe fresh fruit by itself doesn’t do the trick! But what if it’s dipped in chocolate? YUM!! Buy a bag of chocolate chips (milk chocolate or dark–whatever your preference!) Cut up a cup of your favorite fruit. Measure out 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips (which is 130 calories) and microwave it for 30 seconds. Sit down at the table and dip the fruit into the chocolate. Or make a trail mix with 1/2 cup Multigrain Cheerios, 1 tbsp. chocolate chips and 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts. Very delicious and under 220 calories!

4. Feed your craving! Enjoy what you crave, instead of denying yourself. Just try to keep to a sensible portion and eat it slowly! Its smart to limit snacks/treats to 200 – 250 calories. If you feel the strong desire for a candy bar or M&Ms, go for the small size but always read the label. The small package of M&Ms is 250 calories. If you keep them in freezer, you may find that even just a small handful of frozen chocolate will make you quite happy! Better yet, go for a KIND bar. These bars have several chocolate varieties, weigh in at 200 calories each, are a good source of fiber and only 1 teaspoon of sugar. Try to feed your craving with something that will satisfy you so you don’t continue eating. Try a small handful of nuts mixed with a tablespoon of chocolate chips. Or a sweet granola bar with an apple or small banana.

5. Go out and move. When you feel a sugar craving coming on, put on your sneakers and go out for a walk. Doing something else that will relax you may take your mind off the craving. Or, if it’s late at night, sip a cup of soothing chamomile tea with a teaspoon of honey or sugar to feed your sweet tooth and relax.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She loves traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures. Lisa is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012).. Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island where she specializes in weight management, diabetes and travel nutrition. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here.

The BEST Healthy Travel Apps

yoga-3

One of the great things about traveling is that it can help you escape your daily routine. It’s great to explore new places and leave the usual daily grind behind. And feeling great while you travel is a no-brainer. Feeling well will help you enjoy everything your destination has to offer. If you want to have a stress-free vacation and come back home feeling relaxed, planning out most of your trip in advance can make things run smoother. Booking train and museum tickets will help you spend less time on line. And the play you were dying to see–you don’t want to find it’s now sold out when you drop in to buy tickets. Restaurants that you definitely want to try? Book your reservation on Opentable before you leave home. In addition to the “before you start your travels” tips, there are a wide range of health-related apps to help make your trip a great success.  Using apps available on your smartphone when you travel can definitely enhance your travel experience.

Here are some TOP apps to help  you eat healthy, stay fit and feel sane while traveling. Enjoy your trip and come back home feeling healthy, relaxed and energized! Bon voyage!

Healthy Eating Apps

– Happy Cow (free for iPhone): Essentially a “Yelp” for meat-adverse diners – gives options for vegan, vegetarian, and vegetarian-friendly restaurants in your area, rates them by price, and details the type of food and what animal products are offered/omitted. Provides reviews and pictures, so you can browse the menu and decide on what you want on the ride over!
http://www.happycow.net/mobile.html

-Eat Out Well (free for iPhone): From The American Diabetes Association and Hope Warshaw, RDN. Excellent app for searching menu items and their nutrition facts at multiple chain restaurants across the U.S.

–  Food Tripping (free): This app finds your location (in America) and gives you suggestions on healthy food places around you. You can search for Farmers Markets, coffee and tea places, food and drink artisans, eateries, and juice joints. You never have to settle on a fast food salad again!
http://www.shft.com/foodtripping

– My Fitness Pal (free): This app is also very helpful to research calorie counts on popular foods and recipes from other cultures. Calorie counts are verified by their Registered Dietitian, so you know that what you enter into your food log is guaranteed to accurately keep you on track!
https://www.myfitnesspal.com

– CDC’s Travwell (free): Looks at different countries around the world and offers traveling suggestions to be the healthiest as possible for your trip. This includes vaccinations and medicine advice, and lists of over-the-counter medicines and first aid supplies. This is super helpful to stay on track with eating healthy during your vacation, because the better you feel, the more motivated you’ll be to stay healthy the whole trip!
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/apps-about

– Can I Eat This? (free): This is an app also created by the CDC that helps prevent contracting a food borne illness in an international country. By being ahead of potentially debilitating symptoms, you can stay healthy with smart food choices and lots of walking around your city!
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/apps-about

Relaxation Apps
-Insight Timer (free for iPhone) Unwind with this meditation app. A variety of guided meditations to choose from. Select the length of time you wish to meditate.

Fitness Apps

-Simply Yoga (free for iPhone)  A variety of yoga exercises with audio and instructor. A great way to start or end your day.

-MapMyWalk and MapMy Run (free for iPhone) ) Whether walking or running, these apps will keep track of your route, speed and distance.

-Track Your Steps: iSteps ($0.99) iPhone Works like a pedometer! Counts your steps, distance, average speed and calories burned. You can wear it around your waist or carry it in your hand. Great and easy way to get fit so press start and get moving!

-7 Minute Workout (free for iPhone).  Quick and effective full-body workout that only takes seven minutes to complete. Great for travelers!

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her passions include traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures. She is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012).. Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island. Lisa is also the CEO of Eat Well Restaurant Nutrition where she collaborates with chefs to get healthy dishes on the menu. For more info on Lisa, visit here. Special thanks to Samantha Marks, BS, DTR for her input on this post.

Summer Travels: Staying Trim On A Beach Vacation

Amalfi-italy

Making arrangements and reservations for vacation can be anything but relaxing. Sometimes we need a vacation from a vacation, as all the planning is exhausting. Rather than eliminating vacation from your schedule, a relaxing beach holiday where you’re able to lounge and recharge is sometimes what is most needed. Yet, before you jet off to the beach, make sure to use some of the below tips to stay trim and healthy while away. With so many restaurants serving large portions, finishing all that’s on our plates and justifying frequent splurges of higher calorie menu selections, moderation of meals is definitely needed to stay trim while vacationing at the beach. Trust me—-you’ll be much happier when you return home.

Useful Travel Tips:

• Instead of equating dining out while on vacation as an opportunity for carte blanche, remove your indulgences from solely food and instead focus on indulging in a mystery book, massage or quality time with the family. When you redirect your indulgences to other great experiences in life, you will be less likely to overindulge in calories!
• Order half sized portions, appetizers, share entrees or opt to take leftovers home for tomorrow’s meal.
• Don’t be afraid to ask to ‘have it your way.” Restaurants are more accustomed to guests requesting modifications to dishes. For example, it’s not unheard of to ask for dressings, sauces and/or gravies on the side or for diners to ask for part of the meal “doggy bagged.” You may also find that many restaurants will prepare your sandwich on whole grain bread or, if vegan, add avocado or chiickpeas to your salad in place of the cheese. As long as the restaurant has the requested items on hand, you’d be surprised what modifications can be made.
• Aim to “eat in” once a day! Staying in for breakfast, brown bagging your lunch for the beach or eating last night’s doggy bag can save calories and dollars. Bringing along some low sugar oatmeal, cereal and/or breakfast bars, and peanut butter can do the trick. Head to the local farmer’s market or grocery store to keep fresh fruit and vegetables on hand for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.
• Sample rich foods in “moderation” instead of feasting. Keeping calorie-laden foods to a small portion once a day will allow you to enjoy the “local” food while maintaining your desired weight.
• Take advantage of surroundings and go for a morning run on the beach or an afternoon hike. Take every opportunity to sightsee via walking.
• The mini bar in room is the start of many guilty extra snacks and drinks! Your wallet and waistline will thank you if you hide the key!
• As you know, traveling can dehydrate you. Add a few days in the sun and water requirements increase exorbitantly. If you can, keep ice cold bottles of water stocked in your fridge and have some water on hand wherever you go. Also, keep the triple digit calorie drinks at bay with unsweetened hot or cold tea, coffee, sparkling water, club soda or by adding some lemon or lime to ice water. Enjoying a drink or two is expected, but keep in mind that each alcoholic drink can add an extra 150-450 calories and added sugar.
• Challenge yourself to 5 a Day. Every day, make every effort to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables. You won’t only meet your daily fruits and vegetables quota, but you will feel more satisfied with the added fiber.
• Go easy on the condiments. Half of the grams of fat in Arby’s Southwest Chicken Wrap or Ultimate BLT Wrap comes from the ranch sauce or mayo. Limit intake of creamy sauces or soups, opting for ketchup, marinara, mustard or BBQ sauce, which tend to be about 25 calories per tablespoon.
• Take advantage of the abundant amounts of seafood in the nearby ocean. Seafood is a delectable way to get your weekly dose of fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Make sure to order grilled or non-buttered fish as they are lower in fat and calories than the fried or battered dishes.

For your next beach trip, keep these tips in mind so you can have a little cake and eat some fruits and vegetables, too.

Lisa Stollman, MA, RDN, CDE, CDN was recently honored as the 2015 Outstanding Dietitian of the Year by the New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Her passions include traveling the world and experiencing new foods and cultures. She is the author of the ebook The Trim Traveler: How to Eat Healthy and Stay Fit While Traveling Abroad (Nirvana Press 2014) and The Teen Eating Manifesto: The Ten Essential Steps to Losing Weight, Looking Great and Getting Healthy (Nirvana Press 2012)..  Lisa maintains a nutrition practice in NYC and Huntington, Long Island. For more info on Lisa or to schedule a consultation, visit here. Special thanks to Nikki Nies for her contributions in writing this blogpost.