15 Ways for Healthy Heart with Romantic Meal: 50% Plate Plant, Salad, Vegetable
They tell us that the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach! Well, if this is the case then Valentine's Day ought to be the perfect occasion! If you're planning to treat your loved one this year, but are wondering how to keep it healthy, help is at hand!
The good news is that many restaurants today have ample options for those following a healthier lifestyle, and it's now much easier to make healthy choices, which will keep your heart healthy in more ways than one!
A good "rule of thumb" for portioning when you eat at a restaurant is to ensure that vegetables, or salad take up the largest portion of your plate (50%), with carbohydrate foods being around 25% of your plate, and 25% should be lean meat, or alternatives.
15 heart healthy tips for dining this Valentine's Day:
- Unless unavoidable, limit yourself to two courses.
- If you're unsure of the ingredients, ask your waiter, or waitress.
- Remember, the restaurant industries motto is, "We aim to please!" Therefore, don't be afraid to ask for special low calorie or low fat options, if you feel the meals are too high in fat, salt, or sugar. You are the paying customer after all!
- Try to eat the same portion as you would at home. If the serving size is larger than expected, share some with your partner.
- Request that your meal be prepared with vegetable oil, for example olive, canola, corn, sunflower or safflower oil, rather than butter.
- If you're trying to restrict salt intake you should avoid meats and fish that have been smoked, cured, pickled, or canned. Also avoid sauces, seasonings, and marinades that use soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, dried stock, or MSG.
- Choose melon, salad (dressing on the side), fish or vegetable based soup for your appetizer, rather than deep fried, or breaded foods.
- Avoid main courses that have been deep fried, breaded, battered, or those that come with a rich creamy sauce.
- Choose meats that have been grilled, baked, poached, roasted, boiled, steamed, broiled, or lightly stir-fried.
- Always include plenty of vegetables (unbuttered), or salad with your main course.
- If your meal comes with French fries on the side, ask your waiter for a healthier option, such as boiled rice, baked potato, or steamed vegetables instead.
- Ask for sauces, gravy, butter, or salad dressings, on the side, this way you can choose to eat a smaller amount. Also, opt for those that have a tomato, or vegetable base (counts towards a portion of the days veggies), rather than a creamy or cheese based sauce.
- Choose water, diet soda, tea or coffee rather than drinking regular soda or alcoholic drinks.
- Be romantic by sharing your dessert with your partner, saving a few extra calories to boot! Opt for a fruit based pudding, or sorbet rather than cheesecake, gateau, pastries, or cheese and biscuits.
- Eat slowly, enjoy your food, and love the experience!
If you prefer a romantic candlelight dinner for two at home, why not try cooking these recipes?
- A small serving of grilled chicken salad with goat's cheese and raspberry vinaigrette as an appetizer.
- Vietnamese-style monkfish with turmeric, rice noodles and herbs for main course.
- Delicious chocolate raspberry meringues for dessert.
Remember, all foods can fit well into a diet that is otherwise heart healthy and well balanced. You are allowed a treat, particularly on special occasions. Enjoy!
Melanie Thomassian is a dietician, and author of Dietriffic.com, an online resource for credible healthy eating advice for busy people!