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Healthy Multicultural Eating Out

If you're dining out or bringing in, it is easy to find healthy foods. Knowing about American food terms as well as other ethnic cuisines can help make your dining experience healthy and enjoyable!

The following list includes healthy food choices (lower in calories and fat) and terms to look for when making your selection.

Chinese
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  • Steamed
  • Jum (poached)
  • Chu (boiled)
  • Kow (roasted)
  • Shu (barbecued)
  • Hoison sauce with assorted Chinese vegetables: broccoli, mushroom, onion, cabbage, snow peas, scallions, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, asparagus
  • Oyster sauce (made from seafood)
  • Lightly stir-fried in mild sauce
  • Cooked in light wine sauce
  • Hot and spicy tomato sauce
  • Sweet and sour sauce
  • Hot mustard sauce
  • Reduced sodium soy sauce
  • Dishes without MSG added
  • Garnished with spinach or broccoli
  • Fresh fish filets, shrimp, scallops
  • Chicken, without skin
  • Lean beef
  • Bean curd (tofu)
  • Moo Shu vegetable, chicken or shrimp
  • Steamed rice
  • Lychee fruit
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French
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  • Dinner salad with vinegar or lemon juice dressing (or other reduced-fat dressing)
  • Crusty bread without butter
  • Fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, steamed mussels (without sauces)
  • Chicken breast, without skin
  • Rice and noodles without cream or added butter or other fat
  • Fresh fruit for dessert
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Italian
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  • Lightly sauteed with onions
  • Shallots
  • Peppers and mushrooms
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Red sauces - spicy marinara sauce (arrabiata), marinara sauce or cacciatore
  • Light red sauce or light red or white wine sauce
  • Light mushroom sauce
  • Red clam sauce
  • Primavera (no cream sauce)
  • Lemon sauce
  • Capers
  • Herbs and spices - garlic and oregano
  • Crushed tomatoes and spices
  • Florentine (spinach)
  • Grilled (often fish or vegetables)
  • Piccata (lemon)
  • Manzanne (eggplant)
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Middle Eastern
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  • Lemon dressing, lemon juice
  • Blended or seasoned with Middle Eastern spices
  • Herbs and spices
  • Mashed chickpeas
  • Fava beans
  • Smoked eggplant
  • With tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cucumbers
  • Spiced ground meat
  • Special garlic sauce
  • Basted with tomato sauce
  • Garlic
  • Chopped parsley and/or onion
  • Couscous (grain)
  • Rice or bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Stuffed with rice and imported spices
  • Grilled on a skewer
  • Marinated and barbecued
  • Baked
  • Charbroiled or charcoal broiled
  • Fresh fruit
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Japanese
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  • House salad with fresh ginger and cellophane (clear rice) noodles
  • Rice
  • Nabemono
  • Chicken, fish or shrimp teriyaki, broiled in sauce
  • Menrui or soba noodles, often used in soups
  • Yakimono (broiled)
  • Tofu or bean curd
  • Grilled vegetables
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Indian
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  • Tikka (pan roasted)
  • Cooked with or marinated in yogurt
  • Cooked with green vegetables, onions, toma-toes, peppers, and mushrooms
  • With spinach (saag)
  • Baked leavened bread
  • Masala
  • Tandoori
  • Paneer
  • Cooked with curry, marinated in spices
  • Lentils, chick beans, garbanzo beans, beans
  • Garnished with dried fruits
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo) and potatoes
  • Basmati rice (pullao)
  • Matta (peas)
  • Chicken or shrimp kebab
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Mexican
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  • Shredded spicy chicken
  • Rice and black beans
  • Rice
  • Ceviche (fish marinated in lime juice and mixed with spices)
  • Served with salsa (hot red tomato sauce)
  • Served with salsa verde (green chili sauce)
  • Covered with enchilada sauce
  • Topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and onions
  • Served with or wrapped in a corn or wheat flour (soft) tortilla
  • Grilled
  • Marinated
  • Picante sauce
  • Simmered with chili vegetarian tomato sauce
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Thai
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  • Barbecued, sauteed, broiled, boiled, or steamed, braised, marinated
  • Charbroiled
  • Basil sauce, basil or sweet basil leaves
  • Lime sauce or lime juice
  • Chili sauce or crushed dried chili flakes
  • Thai spices
  • Served in hollowed-out pineapple
  • Fish sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Napa, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, ginger, garlic
  • Bed of mixed vegetables
  • Scallions, onions
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Steakhouses
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  • Lean broiled beef (no more than 6 ounces) London broil, filet mignon, round and flank steaks
  • Baked potato without added butter, margarine or sour cream. Try low-fat yogurt or mustard.
  • Green salad with reduced fat dressing
  • Steamed vegetables without added butter or margarine. Try lemon juice and herbs.
  • Seafood dishes (usually indicated as "surf " on menus)
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Fast Food

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  • Grilled chicken breast sandwich without mayonnaise
  • Single hamburger without cheese
  • Grilled chicken salad with reduced-fat dressing
  • Garden salad with reduced-fat dressing
  • Low-fat or nonfat yogurt
  • Fat-free muffin
  • Cereal with low-fat milk
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Deli/Sandwich Shop
Choose More Often...

  • Fresh sliced vegetables in pita bread with low-fat dressing, yogurt or mustard
  • Cup of bean soup (lentil, minestrone)
  • Turkey breast sandwich with mustard, lettuce, tomato
  • Fresh fruit
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Source: National Institutes of Health - U.S. Department of Healthy and Human Services - NIH Publication no. 05-5213 August 2005

Adapted by Editorial Staff, October 2007
Last update, August 2008

 


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