Sunday, February 3, 2013

Spicier restaurant meals

It seems to me as though more people are dining in restaurants on a regular basis compared with past years. Growing up, I don’t remember going out to eat much more than once per month, and fast food was a special treat just a few times per year. We certainly enjoy having someone else do the cooking when we go to a restaurant, but between portion sizes being large, nutritional statistics being somewhat awful and budgeting for vacations, we’ve limited ourselves to once per week on average.

Since attempting to eat healthier, we’ve become more aware of extra salt and a richer depth of flavor in some restaurant meals. For example, I’ll buy low-fat Caesar salad dressing in the grocery store, but in most restaurants, you can’t compare the calories per tablespoon, so you enjoy your unhealthier-yet-delicious Caesar salad. I tried to make pop-overs at home, even getting a special baking tin, but they didn’t taste the same as restaurant ones (though I’ll concede it could be practice and expertise, not just ingredients!).

Does anyone else enjoy multi-ingredient salads more in restaurants than at home? Could I cut up an orange myself? Sure, but it’s much more fun to get toasted and candied nuts on a salad when “out”. Some items taste over-salted to me in restaurants, such as soups, since I tend to cook with very little of it at home- hence the local spice effort!

Finally, delicious crepes are a luxury when out and about, particularly when filled with seafood in a cream sauce! My next goal is to figure out how to make delicious healthier food, instead of simply substituting skim milk and hoping for the best (some dry mixes of pasta sauces taste fine with skim milk, but other recipes just get watery with low fat dairy). Ditto egg substitute and butter in a tub. Though my cholesterol numbers have improved with these efforts…it’s just fun to indulge every once in a while. Do you have any healthy substitution tricks with dairy? I've used canned pumpkin and apple sauce in cake mix recipes, but the savory items are more difficult for me to re-creat. Thanks for sharing any tips!

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