Fed & Fit

What to Order: Greek Restaurant

Today marks the first of many posts in my new series: What to Order. I am going to start giving you tips and tricks on what to order in various types of restaurants.

It is ideal to cook and eat at home. Cooking at home allows you to have complete control over the ingredients and how the food is handled. I get it and I support it.

That being said, it’s not entirely realistic to eat all your meals at home, especially if you’re always traveling or can’t find time.

Over the past few years, I have slowly grown into a confident healthy-eating restaurant patron. For the most part, you can ALWAYS find something healthy to order. You just have to look at the menu a little differently and grow a thick skin when your waiter, friends, clients, and coworkers give you a funny look after you order.

It is important for me to eat healthy without feeling like I’m dieting. I do not diet; I live a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, when I go to a Chinese restaurant, I’m not going to order grilled chicken with a side of steamed broccoli. I’m going to order something that actually looks and tastes like Chinese food – crazy, right?

I have some go-to meals for the various types of restaurants in my repertoire.

For this edition, I give some tips on how to order in a Greek Restaurant.

When I think Greek food, I imagine a giant warm pita filled with crispy gyro (lamb) meat and fresh onions. It’s dripping in the wonderful Greek yogurt cucumber sauce, Tzatziki, and sitting by a side of crispy fried potatoes. YUM.

Now, that order is okay once in a blue moon. However, I find myself frequenting our local Greek restaurant much more often than once in a blue moon.

Here’s how to get a taste for Greek food without making you feel like you’re going to blow your belt:

1.    Start with a salad.

You want as many vegetables on your plate as possible. Salads are a safe bet and a great starting point. In this case, I ordered a Mediterranean Salad. This salad is essentially just a giant bed of chopped Romaine lettuce.

2.    Say no to dressing.

You don’t need it. The meat and other vegetables will be enough flavoring. If you need a little extra, grab some lemons from the soda bar or refer to tip #5. The Mediterranean salad comes with their house “Greek vinaigrette,” composed mostly of oil and balsamic vinegar. Although those are both perfectly acceptable ingredients, I prefer to save my calories for other treats (again, refer to tip #5).

3.    No cheese.

Again, you don’t need it. I promise the salad will be just as delicious if you nix the cheese. The Mediterranean salad comes with a standard generous crumbling of Feta cheese. As much as I love Feta, I don’t miss it on this salad. By my rough calculations, the Feta can add almost 150 calories.

4.    Pick your favorite protein.

This is important. Please don’t feel like you are restricted to grilled chicken breast or salmon for healthy restaurant choices. Have fun! You already made some excellent decisions above; you can afford to choose whichever meat you want (as long as it’s not covered in cheese). My favorite Greek meat is gyro. The crispy lamb meat is dream-worthy.

5.    Be choosy about your sides.

Now that you have the full, balanced, healthy meal above, you can afford to branch out a little. I will accept the complementary 6” (wheat) pita and side of Tzatziki. In fact, I will use the Tzatziki as dressing and dip each bite of salad into the delicious Greek yogurt sauce.

That’s it! Simple, right?

Cheers to your confident & healthy menu perusing!

For Perspective,

Approximate Nutrition Facts:

GREEK SALAD

Serving size: 1 whole salad w/1/4 lb meat

170 Calories; 18 g Fat; 31 g Protein

PITA BREAD SIDE

Serving size: 6”

210 Calories; 7 g Fat; 5 g Protein

TZATZIKI

Serving size: 2 oz.

80 Calories; 6 g Fat; 2 g Protein

TOTAL

460 Calories; 31 g Fat; 38 g Protein

The photos and approximate nutrition facts were based on food from Papouli’s Greek Grill

   

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