A Healthy Take on Takeout

Categories: Nutrition
Take Out Food

Takeout dining is a super-fast and convenient way to enjoy a meal with your family! During these uncertain times, many restaurants are offering takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery. Ordering takeout not only saves you from the stress of cooking, but also supports our local businesses! You may be weary to order takeout because sometimes “fast food” can be deemed unhealthy. But, there are so many healthy options out there! Here are a few tips from Cleveland Clinic to help you discover a healthy take on takeout.

1. Choose whole grains and noodle substitutions:

  • Ask if you can get brown rice instead of white.
  • Substitute whole wheat pasta or zoodles (zucchini noodles) for the usual pasta.
  • Choose whole-wheat crust or thin-crust for your pizzas.
Chicken and Brocolli

2. Protein picks:

  • You can try to lower the calorie intake by choosing chicken or seafood instead of beef, lamb or pork.
  • If you’re celebrating #MeatlessMonday, choose legumes (beans) instead of meats. They’re high in fiber, filling and healthy.
  • Try a veggie option, like a veggie burger, which can also help you achieve your goal of 25 grams of daily fiber. You’d be surprised how similar the texture and taste can be to meat!

3. Veggies, veggies, & more veggies:

  • Double veggies in your dish, instead of unhealthy starchy options.
  • Try having baby carrots as an appetizer, to keep you from overeating.
  • A side of broccoli instead of fries.
  • Cauliflower pizza crust instead of regular crust (it’s an option in many places since it’s gluten-free).
  • Double lettuce and tomato on your burger.
  • A side salad and a broth-based vegetable soup.
  • A side of salsa to use in place of ketchup or another sodium-heavy condiment.
  • A bag of steamed veggies from home added to a starchy takeout dish to bulk up the nutrition and increase your fullness. This can help you use up the items in your freezer and pantry!

4. Decrease the dairy:

Dairy has nutritional value, but a takeout meal loaded with dairy can do more harm than good. You can still enjoy dairy deliciousness, just try these tips.

  • Order half the cheese or a lower-fat cheese, such as American or provolone. (Or — even better — ask for the cheese on the side.)
  • Use an avocado instead of dairy — avocado has a great creamy texture.
  • Skip on condiments like sour cream (or ask for them on the side).
  • Order a vinaigrette instead of ranch dressing. But make sure it’s a balsamic.

5. Say bye-bye to fried:

Baked, steamed, roasted or grilled are healthier ways to prepare foods. Try these:

  • Steamed summer roll instead of a deep-fried spring roll.
  • Grilled, not fried, chicken parmesan.
  • Steamed vegetable dumplings instead of fried wontons.
  • Soft-shell taco rather than a fried hard-shell taco (or even better — a taco salad with lettuce).
  • Baked potato instead of fries.
Fried Chicken
Chicken in Cream Sauce

6. Don’t slather on the sauces:

  • Ask for less sauce, sauce on the side, or a veggie-based sauce (like marinara) instead of a cream-based sauce (like alfredo).

7. Bring on the beans:

Beans are high in fiber — they help you feel full and even have heart benefits like lowering cholesterol.

  • In terms of takeout, order a bean burrito instead of an enchilada, choose vegetarian refried beans to save on fat (though whole beans are better than refried beans).
  • Order legume-loaded soups like minestrone, lentil soup or vegetarian chili. But don’t forget to account for these healthy soups when thinking through the rest of your meal. You don’t want to fill up on a heavy soup to start!

You can still enjoy the local takeout restaurants you love, without the extra calories and with more nutritional value. Be sure to follow the recommended distancing and takeout order procedures from the CDC.  These are uncertain times, but we can still support our favorite restaurants while eating healthy. Stay strong everyone, we got this!

What local takeout restaurants offer healthy food you love? Let us know! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below:

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