How to Order at a Vegetarian RestaurantArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
If you’re dining at a vegetarian restaurant, there are some simple rules of thumb to follow to help keep you on track with your healthy diet. Keeping some of these tips in mind will help you make healthy choices.
Vegetarian does not automatically mean healthy—as a lot of folks mistakenly think. After all, a big greasy slice of pizza would qualify as a vegetarian dish and that isn’t necessarily your best choice. Even if you choose a vegetable-based dish, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. There are many ways to cook vegetables that can detract from their overall health factor such as deep frying them or saturating them in oil. Because many vegetables are spongy, they can actually soak up more oil than you realize when cooked that way.
The first thing on the menu to avoid at a vegetarian restaurant are foods that are deep fried! Words like “crispy” or “golden” are red flags even if the menu doesn’t say the word “fried.” Also steer clear of dishes made with cheese sauces or topped with a lot of shredded cheese. Cheese is one of the fastest ways to add unnecessary fat into a vegetarian dish. If your meal comes with cheese you can always ask your server to leave it off.
Also, be careful to avoid creamy soups such as cream of potato or even corn chowder. Cream-based soups can be laden with fat. Similarly, avoid creamy salad dressings which can be packed with fat and calories. Even some oily dressings can be an unhealthy choice. Stick with a light vinaigrette or even a dab of oil and vinegar. You may also want to ask that your dressing be served on the side so that you choose how much you put on. When the dressing is served “mixed in,” it’s often multiple servings—and much more than you really need.
Ask for this…
How your meal is prepared is important. Ask the chef if it’s possible for them to use less oil and salt in your food’s preparation. You can ask for sauces to be served on the side or even that you be served an “appetizer portion” of your meal. If they can’t do that, then portion it yourself and ask for part of it to be boxed up right away to take home. Portion size makes a big difference.
Look for these options…
A good rule of thumb is to look for foods that are grilled, sautéed, skewered, steamed, baked or roasted on the menu. For soups, look for those that are broth-based.
Some of the best choices at a vegetarian restaurant include fresh fruit, vegetables, veggie burgers, lentils and beans, tofu, tempeh and salads with the dressing on the side. You should also choose whole grains whenever possible. Skip the bread basket if it’s just white rolls made from refined flour.
Of course, when it comes to your drink, opt for water or unsweetened ice tea. It’s simply not worth it to add in a bunch of unwanted calories with a sugary soda.
Check out this handy guide to better understand what you should order and avoid while out to eat: