Eating out is always a challenge whether you are actively trying to lose weight, or just maintaining. And with the holidays coming up it’s about to get even more difficult. I really hate feeling deprived at a table where everyone is indulging, but I really don’t think you have to be deprived, you just have to use portion knowledge and plan ahead if you want to indulge a bit.
We North Texans know a little something about eating out. According to eaththis.com (http://www.eatthis.com/these-us-cities-eat-most-fast-food): Dallas is #4 on the list of cities that eat the most fast food. “Everything is bigger in Texas–including the citizens’ appetite for fast food. Those residing in Dallas eat the stuff 16.8 times per month.” According to a ZAGAT survey the average amount we eat out as a nation is 4.5 times a week. “At the high end, Atlanta surveyors eat out the most frequently (5.2 times per week), while the country’s least frequent diners live in Portland, OR, and Minneapolis (both at 3.4 times per week).” (https://www.zagat.com/b/the-state-of-american-dining-in-2015) I don’t know if they surveyed Dallas/Fort Worth area residents, but I think we would be fighting for that spot with Atlanta easily. I don’t know where Providence, RI ranks, but this op-ed so to speak is being targeted to an audience of one currently.
When I was in 4th grade I had only a handful of friends (most of whom I am still in contact with via Facebook). That school year a girl moved to Forest Hills, NY and attended my elementary school. She has remained a friend (albeit in and out of touch and long distance) ever since. You know who you are!
There are just some people in your life who you know you will always have a connection to… she is one of them. In an effort to be helpful, I have reviewed some menus of local Providence, RI restaurants (hopefully some of which she has frequented or may in the future), and have offered here my thought process on what I would order should I have the opportunity to visit. I will try to do this occasionally for other friends/readers or just for some other locations based on my readership.
I looked up some of the top restaurants in Providence, RI on Trip Advisor and downloaded some menus. I will provide links to these menus below. I read carefully the menus from the following establishments:
- Los Andesri
- Café Nuovo
- East Side Pockets
- Figidini – Wood Fire Eatery
- Chez Pascal
First I want to say that I was NOT looking at prices. If you want to lose weight and save money my best advice is to eat at home as much as possible. Prepare in advance on weekends and freeze if necessary because as we all know dining out gets pricey quickly and can destroy a budget in one night.
Normally I would recommend not ordering an appetizer – but sometimes a nice salad helps to fill you with little caloric addition. Alternatively sometimes the appetizer menu looks so good, you can chose from there for your entrée.
If ordering an appetizer I would go with the Ceviche Martini or the Choros A La Chalaca, most of the other choices are in a cream sauce, or is fried or buttery. If you are going to choose a salad the Ensalada Con Quinoa and the Ensalada Del Jardin are both good choices. Almost all the entrées are very rich and greasy – I would choose the Picante de Pollo, possibly the Fricase. But choosing from the seafood section of the menu might be the way to go. Any of the Ceviches would be a good choice or the Sudado De Pescado. Even the Paella if eaten in moderation is a good choice.
The appetizers at this place are equally rich. I’d probably skip or maybe chose as an entrée. Really the best bet of the appetizer choices is probably the chilled oysters, crab cakes or crispy sushi. The salads are all fairly good choices again watching portion control with your dressings. A good tip is to always order your dressings on the side. If you are skipping the appetizer almost any of the grille choices are healthy but watch the portions again, as they are quite large. Same thing for the grille sides – but probably best to stay away from the creamed spinach or the candied sweet potatoes. I can’t eat any of the pasta, and honestly as much as I love and miss the stuff it is the least healthy choice on any menu. But if you need your pasta fix (and believe me I understand), I would choose one of the risotto dishes or something in a red sauce (stay away from cream or butter sauces if at all possible). OK so you’ve skipped the appetizer and are not going with the salad, the grille or the pasta which entrée is safest? Actually most of these choices are pretty good… I’d avoid the rich greasy duck (although I love it), the Angus ribeye (unless you could sub out the creamed spinach), and maybe the filet mignon (rich sauces), but that still leaves almost 80% of the choices on the entrée menu. After what looks like a wonderful meal I don’t know if you’d even consider dessert, but if necessary stick with the fruit and berries, or the ice cream or sorbet as these likely have enough natural sugars in them that additional refined sugars won’t have been overly supplemented.
For Gracie’s I chose to review the 3 course prix fixe menu. Since this is much more limited I can make the choices more easily. I would start with Jeffery’s Baby Greens Salad for the first course, for the second it would either be the Carolina Brook Trout or the Tasking of Autumn Vegetable. For dessert I probably would ask, but likely wind up sharing the Lemon Tart.
East Side Pockets:
OMG this is my kind of food. Now of course I have a problem because I cannot eat pita bread, but I can do almost anything on this menu as a platter version (and you can too if you want to save the carbs). Yes, falafel are fried, but they are made from chickpeas and again in moderation won’t destroy your waist line. I love humus and it is good for you. The chicken kabob is served in a wrap or as a platter so are the beef, gyros and kofta. The platters are served with a salad (go with the light dressing or just an oil and vinegar if necessary) and rice and lentils over Syrian bread. Again with portion control, all very healthy. I’d eat the rice and the lentils probably and skip the bread even if it were gluten free – save calories and carbs.
Figidini – Wood Fire:
If ordering an appetizer almost any of these are relatively healthy. If I was saving calories for my entrée I would avoid the Goat Cheese Salad, the Meatballs and possibly the figs. For my entrée (from the Grill), I would choose the lamb, the chicken or the scallops – avoiding the skirt steak with gorgonzola cream, the sausage and the calamari. I would personally choose the Artichokes on the side, but although the carrots are served in a butter sauce the vegetables are probably all fairly decent choices. If I was going to have one of the pizzas (which I couldn’t unless they offered a gluten free crust) I would choose a vegetarian option as most meat toppings on pizza are very high in fat. The older I get the harder I find it is to digest meat and dairy during the same meal. Then I would portion control the grilled food or the pizza depending on what it looked like when it arrived at the table. A serving of protein (ie. the lamb or the chicken) should be roughly equal to the size of your fist. If it arrives at the table larger than that, cut off and set aside to be boxed up the remainder, and take it home for another meal/snack. I can’t comment on the size of their pizzas, but if it’s close to a New York Pie than two slices is more than enough, and if it were me, I probably would leave most of the crust behind because I love the toppings. Didn’t see dessert on this menu, but if you must have some, stick with something that has the least amount of added refined sugar. If you don’t know, ask… most restaurants have a pretty good idea of the nutritional values in their offerings.
Their appetizers are a little more difficult to choose from. If I was going to order one of these it would likely be my entrée as they are all very rich. The entrées are a little easier to make a choice from. ANY of these choices with possibly the duck being the only exception are great choices as long as you portion control. Everything is about moderation and the bit of bacon, or butter here and there is not going to break you as long as you are balancing your day. On this menu they offer sorbet as a dessert option and if I needed something sweet after my meal that is what I would choose as the others are both very very high in sugar and for me are not gluten friendly.
I hope this menu review was helpful. I think it gives you an idea of my thought process when I go out to eat – especially while trying to drop pounds. If at all possible avoid alcohol as it converts to sugar quickly and will quickly make your caloric intake soar.
Here are the links to the actual menus I reviewed. This whole process made me very hungry and wanting to take a trip to Rhode Island.
- Los Andesri: http://losandesri.com/andes/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13
- Café Nuovo: http://www.cafenuovo.com/cafenuovo/menu.cfm?cat=2
- Gracie’s: http://graciesprov.com/menu/
- East Side Pockets: http://eastsidepocket.com/#menu
- Figidini – Wood Fire Eatery: http://www.figidini.com/menu/
- Chez Pascal: http://chez-pascal.com/#menu