Our friends at the American Heart Association have some helpful tips for eating out at your favorite restaurant, while staying heart healthy. We are going to offer several easy recipes for you this month if you like to cook, but everyone likes to eat out. Many restaurants offer special heart healthy menus and you can make most dining experiences heart healthy with a few tips.
1. Avoid before-the-meal extras. This does include cocktails and the delicious bread and garlic butter that they set so dangerously in the middle of your table. These all contain extra calories, fat and sodium.
2. Ask for dressings, butter, cream cheese, sauces and gravies to be served on the side. Still enjoy them, just maybe not as much as they would "smother" your baked potato with.
3. We all like our meal fried and pickled, but try it grilled, blackened or broiled.
4. Be picky at the salad bar. Choose the freshest, greenest, most raw ingredients. Fresh fruit, garbanzo beans and light dressings. You don't have to skip the cheese, but make sure there is more lettuce than cheese!
5. Choose your dessert carefully. Sherbet and angel food cake are both great alternative. If you just love cheesecake (like we all do) just split it with your date.
6. Remember that your server is there to answer questions! Ask how the food is prepared. Ask what ingredients are used. Tell them you are trying to be heart healthy and see what they suggest. Some restaurants will even prepare smaller portions or allow to share an entree.
None of these recommendations are fun. We all prefer a loaded baked potato with fried shrimp, but try it out for February. When you eat out, look for the heart healthy menu. At the end of the month, maybe your heart will be happier (and your pants a little less tight).