I just saw an interesting segment on The Dr. Oz Show – one of my new favorites. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend the show as it is full of easy, quick tips for healthy living. I especially like the segments on food and the one that caught my attention recently was on “Restaurant Secrets” and how to be a savvier diner.
Most of us are already pretty savvy shoppers – in fact, I think part of being a Spirited Woman is having a natural curiosity about things and that extends to the dinner table. Most of us focus quite a bit on what we eat at home – we know where our food is sourced, we know how it’s prepared, and we know what’s in it because we’re in control. But when it comes to restaurants, it’s not so easy. That’s because there are a lot of tricks to the restaurant trade. Bon Appétit's Restaurant Editor Andrew Knowlton joined Dr. Oz and shared several great tips . . . here are my favorites:
- Beware of the “Special”: According to Knowlton, most restaurants create specials for one of two reasons: either to use seasonal ingredients that they can not permanently add to the menu or to “move” ingredients that are on the verge of going bad. So how can you tell if a restaurant is doing the latter? One rule of thumb -- avoid any “kitchen sink” dishes (i.e., sauces, soups or stews that contains a wide variety of ingredients). According to Knowlton, chances are some ingredients will be fresh, while others are not. For example, if you had a choice between two specials -- pasta with chicken ragu or grilled chicken with white asparagus and porcini mushrooms -- which would you choose? Knowlton says the safer bet is to avoid the “ragu” and go for the grill.
- Choose Local and Seasonal – Fish?: We all know fruit and veggies are seasonal, but Knowlton says fish and some meats are too. So although you may be tempted to try that “exotic imported” item on the menu, think twice. It’s better to pick something local and in-season for optimal flavor and freshness. For example, he says if you ever see Tiger Shrimp on the menu, run the other way. According to Knowlton, Tiger Shrimp are imported from Asia and are often raised in small ponds that are quite dirty and in which they end up eating their own excrement (not terribly appealing). They also have very little flavor, so restaurants need to “doctor” them up with sauces, marinades and butters, which means more calories.