A new year, and George and I are on Weight Watchers. Yes, we’re losing weight, but we haven’t lost our love for good food. We still dine out, but just try to discover dishes that satisfy, without making us feel stuffed. Many restaurants are making a concerted effort to hand those dishes to us on a silver platter, including many popularly-priced places.
Online I found six Guiltless Grill choices to be found at Chili’s. All items are under 750 calories, so I don’t know how guiltless they really are. But they certainly LOOK good. There’s honey-mustard glazed Grilled Salmon in the fish column, Grilled Chicken on rice with veggies and the Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich with lo-fat ranch dressing on a whole-wheat bun in that popular category. A Guiltless Carne Asada Steak will make carnivores happy, and a Guiltless Black Bean Burger appeals to vegetarians. Each selection is less than $14 to boot.
Another local eatery combining nutritious dishes with low price is Applebee’s, a family favorite. There you may feel even more guiltless, as they tempt you with Grilled Shrimp and Island Rice, Asiago Peppercorn Steak or Grilled Dijon Chicken and Portobellos, all served with seasonal vegetables, all less than $11. Or you can have your whole wheat penne pasta and eat it, too, with Spicy Shrimp Diavolo on top. A hearty salad instead? Try an Asian Crunch Salad with grilled chicken breast , crunchy vegetables with an Asian vinaigrette and almonds. These last two dishes are under $10. And we saved the big surprise for last...all are less than 550 calories.
Every day we get an email from Splash, with daily specials attached. A favorite restaurant among Villagers, Splash always offers fresh fish, prepared your way, either with or without sauces. Recently, Splash was offering healthy Mediterranean-influenced plate-fuls, which caught my fancy. Fresh Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad, $34. Moroccan Seared Scallops on almond and apricot couscous, $24 Catalanian Lamb Shank, $22. What’s not to love about eating well while waist-watching?
We can’t forget Michael’s. You’ll always find something special on their menu, appealing to the fitness freak within you. This week I found Blackened Grouper in a light pineapple
buerre blanc, served with vegetables, $25. I felt so not-guilty that I opted to eat my share of our quartet’s shared dessert, Apple Strudel with Ice Cream. At Michael’s George and I frequently get a couple of appetizers and a drink, and call it dinner. Easy on the waistline, and tasty, when you can sample such delicacies as Michael’s extraordinary crab cakes.
A healthy trend in the last few years is the tapas bar, where small plates are ordered, often with a glass of wine, and frequently shared with everyone at the table. Vizcaya is the outstanding venue for tapas. Just listen: Caramelized Eggplant Slices with cheese and a sauce, or Pimientos stuffed with ground veal and béchamel sauce, each $6. Serrano Ham Croquettes New England mussels in Spanish brandy, $7 apiece. Crab meat, lobster and shrimp with avocado and remoulade sauce, $9. An alternative to tapas is Vizcaya’s excellent Paella Valenciana, large enough to share and delicious, $26.
Most of us have favorite ethnic establishments, some cuisines more health ful than others. But you have to be choosy. In the Village are three fine Thai places…Jasmine, Benjarong and Ban Thai.
The hot and spicy chicken soup is way less caloric than the Thai chicken coconut.
Likewise, green chicken curry is less sinful than Pad Thai (but I love the latter and haven’t given up on it.)
Generally, Italian cuisine presents challenges to Weight Watchers. Our answer to that is to share entrees and have big salads as a first course. But I am proud to reveal how I made lower-cal pizza AT HOME when our granddaughter was visiting. Starting with a flatbread crust, I spread on jarred marinara sauce, sautéed onion, peppers and mushrooms which were added along with turkey sausage and turkey pepperoni, then 2 percent cheese. Mama Mia, was it good. I felt so guiltless that I sipped a Cabernet along with it.
Being addicted to food is unlike any other addiction, because we have to eat to live. Heaven help us if, instead, we live to eat! Next issue I promise not to talk about cutting calories or fat. I know a few good restaurants nearby that I haven’t dipped into yet.