Dining Out the Healthy Way

We've all been there‚- your diet is going great, you've been hitting the gym, cooking healthy meals, and planning out your breakfasts and lunches like a pro. Then, wham!, you realize you have to meet the girls for dinner, take your kids for pizza, and go out to eat with your boss all in one week. Or, like us, you just aren't willing to sacrifice dining out in order to achieve your weight loss goals. In any case, it's important to know that there is a way to eat out without the guilt.

If you know where you'll be going, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Many chain restaurants have websites that provide you with nutritional information for most of the items on the menu. One positive remnant of the low-carb craze is that Applebees Light Menu Optionsmany restaurants are finally wising up to the need for healthy options on the menu. Applebees has Weight Watcher's-friendly offerings with Points Values right on the menu and Chili's offers a Guiltless Grill and prints nutritional information on the menu as well. If the restaurant you'll be going to doesn't have nutritional info on the website, check out www.dwlz.com for a comprehensive listing or pick up a copy of Marta Schueneman's book Eat Out Smart for caloric information on many restaurants on-the-go. The American Heart Association also has a great list of suggestions for nearly any cuisine.

If you don't know where you'll be going ahead of time or aren't going to a chain, there are still plenty of ways to make healthy decisions. The first thing you can do is order smaller portions. You can order from the lunch menu or ask if they'll wrap up half of your entrée before even serving it to you. This will help you cut down on calories (and maybe save you money or give you dinner for tomorrow) before the meal even begins.

Now on to the menu… There are plenty of things to avoid‚- creamy sauces, fried foods, anything you know to be greasy, and of course, the dreaded bread basket. But let's focus instead on what you should order. For meats, grilled is the key word here. Chicken, seafood, even steak, is much healthier when prepared on a grill than any other preparation method. For side dishes, avoid starches and load up on veggies or a salad. Order salad with a low fat dressing on the side, and dip your fork into the dressing instead of pouring it over your salad. Ask for double portions of a vegetable rather than a starch. And don't be afraid to ask how the food is prepared and for changes to the preparation, you're paying for it for goodness sake! You'd be shocked at how much oil and butter is used in restaurants, ask for your food without it or with as little as possible.

While you're eating, enjoy your food and eat slowly. Dining out should be more about the experience than the act of eating. Savor your company and the atmosphere as well as the food and you'll be on your way to a healthy restaurant

Raspberry “Ice Cream” Cake

Serves: 12Raspberry
WW Points: 2

1 cup raspberries
1 package SF, FF Pudding Mix -- Vanilla
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
2 cups raspberry sorbet -- Softened
8 ounces cool whip free -- Thawed

Line a bread pan or 9x5 baking dish with aluminum foil. Spread rasbperry sorbet on the bottom of the dish and freeze for 10 minutes.

In a big bowl, mix milk and pudding mix until well blended, approximately 2 minutes. Fold in thawed Cool whip and mix until blended.

Pour pudding/cool whip mixture on top of the sorbet in the baking dish. Place in freezer for at least 3 hours before serving.

Invert pan onto a dish and remove the foil. Let thaw for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Top each slice with fresh raspberries before serving.

Nutritional Analysis:
Per Serving: 97 Calories; trace Fat (2.7% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 1mg Cholesterol; 121mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 0 Fat.

Potato Salad

Serves: 6Low Fat Potato Salad
WW Points: 2

4 medium baking potatoes
4 tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup diced onion

Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Slice each half in half lengthwise again. Slice each new half into 3-4 chunks. You should get approximately 12-16 chunks per potato. Make sure the chunks are all approximately the same size.

Place potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender but not mushy. Do not overcook!

Remove potatoes from pot and let cool in a bowl. Once cooled, use a knife and peel the skin off the potatoes.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 tablespoon vinegar with 2 tablespoons mayo. Add onions and mix. Add mixture to the bowl with the potatoes and combine. Add in remaining mayo and mix well. Be careful not to crush the potatoes. Sprinkle paprika on top for decoration.

Nutritional Analysis:
Per Serving: 125 Calories; 2g Fat (14.4% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 4mg Cholesterol; 57mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Berry Smoothie

Serves: 1
WW Points: 4

1/2 cup peach juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup diced banana
1/4 cup sorbet -- raspberry

Place ingredients in blender and mix by flicking on/off switch until mostly blended. Gradually increase the speed and continue mixing until smooth.

Nutritional Analysis:
Per Serving: 237 Calories; 1g Fat (3.6% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 60g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 10mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 Fruit; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Zucchini Bread

Serves: 18
WW Points: 4

6 egg whites
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream egg whites, applesauce, sugar, oil, and vanilla together until thick and foamy. Reserving 1/2 cup of flour, add the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Use the remaining flour to reach the desired consistency of the zucchini bread mixture. (Not too thick, but not too runny).

Spray two 5- by 9-inch loaf pans with nonstick spray. Pour batter into pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until done.

Nutritional Analysis:
Per Serving: 171 Calories; 5g Fat (27.6% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 176mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

Baked Tomatoes

Serves: 4
WW Points: 1

2 tablespoons I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
1 clove garlic -- crushed
1 teaspoon orange zest
4 plum tomatoes -- (or 2 Beefsteak)
fresh basil -- to garnish
salt and pepper

Soften the butter in a small bowl and add crushed garlic, orange zest, and salt and pepper. Blend well and chill for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Trim the bottoms off the tomatoes to create a flat surface. Cut tomatoes in half, crosswise. Place in a baking dish and top each tomato half with the butter mixture.

Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until tender. Serve with fresh basil leaves on top of each tomato half.

Nutritional Analysis:
Per Serving: 41 Calories; 3g Fat (66.5% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 6mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit.

Marinated Zucchini

Serves: 6
WW Points: 2

4 zucchini -- thinly sliced
8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh mint
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
mint leaves -- to garnish

In a heavy saucepan, heat 4 tsp olive oil. Fry zucchini in batches until tender and brown around the edges. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining oil and add 2 tbsp mint and 2 tbsp white wine vinegar. Stir in zucchini. Marinate for 1 hour.

Serve zucchini with fresh mint leaves on top.

Nutritional Analysis:
Per Serving: 73 Calories; 6g Fat (70.6% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 5mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates.

Roasted Tomatoes

Serves: 4
WW Points: 2

8 plum tomatoes
12 cloves garlic -- whole, unpeeled
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 450 F. Cut tomatoes in half. Line bottom of a baking dish with tomatoes so that they are all side by side, cut side up. Place garlic cloves between tomato halves.

Brush the tomatoes with olive oil and add the bay leaves to the dish. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper on top and place in the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes.

The tomatoes are done when they are softened and a little charred. Season with salt and more pepper, if desired.

Nutritional Analysis:
Per Serving: 79 Calories; 5g Fat (51.7% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 13mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fat.