Ethnic Cuisine: "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"
As with most ethnic cuisines, there are pros and cons to Indian cookery. Beginning with the pros, Indian food emphasizes complex carbohydrates such as basmati rice, breads, lentils, chickpeas, and vegetables, all accented with an array of spices. The most common veggies are spinach, cabbage, peas, onions, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, and green peppers. The con is that fat can easily find its way into many of the entrees, breads, and vegetable side dishes.
Scrutinize the menu and watch out for the word ghee, which is clarified butter used frequently in Indian cooking. Other oils that are used for sautéing and frying are sesame oil and coconut oil. Although sesame oil is unsaturated, it's quite the contrary for coconut oil—arteries beware! If salt is an issue, forego the soups, and ask the waiter to please prepare your meal without any added salt.
|*Tamata salad||Anything made with ghee (clarified butter)|
|*Mulligatawny soup (lentils, veggies, and spices)||Coconut soups|
|*Chicken or beef tikka||Samosas (fried vegetable turnover)|
|Tandoori chicken*, beef, or fish*||Korma (meat with rich yogurt cream sauce)|
|Chicken*, beef, and fish* saag (with spinach)||Curries made with coconut milk or cream|
|Chicken*, beef, and fish*||Pakora (fried dough with veggies)|
|Vindaloo (with potatoes and spices)||Saag paneer (spinach with cream sauce)|
|Shish kabob||Creamy rice dishes|
|*Gobhi matar tamatar (cauliflower with peas and tomatoes)||Fried breads|
|Matar pulao (rice pilaf with peas)||Honeyed pastries|
|Papadum or papad (crispy, thin lentil wafers)||Naan (leavened, baked bread)|
|Coriander-, tamarind-, and yogurt-based sauces||Kulcha (leavened, baked bread)|
|*Chapati (thin, dry whole-wheat bread)|
|*Mango, mint, and onion chutney|
Among my friends and family, Italian seems to be the one type of food that we can always agree upon. (It's amazing how quickly you can get into the mood.) Unfortunately, as with every other cuisine, if you take one wrong turn on the menu, you're headed for a nutritional nightmare. For instance, a salad and half order of pasta can be a terrific meal if the pasta is ordered with the right kind of sauce; stick with meatless marinara, red and white clam sauce, pomodora, white wine, and a light olive oil. On the other hand, a full-sized pasta entree swimming in one of those cream sauces is a big zero. Also watch out for super-cheesy entrees such as stuffed shells, manicotti, lasagna, and parmigiana. Of course, every once in a while, we are all entitled to indulge. Just make sure the rest of your day was pretty low-fat because some of this stuff can be lethal.
|*Roasted peppers||Fried calamari and fried mozzarella|
|*Mussels marinara||Garlic bread|
|*Steamed clams||Caesar salads|
|*Grilled calamari||Sausage and meatball heros|
|*Minestrone soup||Calzones and pizza with pepperoni and sausage|
|*Half orders of all pastas||Antipasto salad with high-fat meats and cheese|
|Pasta with meatless marinara sauce||Cheese- or meat-filled ravioli and manicotti|
|Pasta primavera (not creamy)||Meat lasagna and cheesy vegetarian lasagna|
|Pasta with red and white clam sauce||Cannelloni and baked ziti|
|Pasta with marsala||Chicken, veal, or eggplant parmigiana|
|*Chicken breast with red sauce||Fettuccine alfredo and pasta carbonara|
|*Chicken cacciatore||Shrimp scampi|
|*Shrimp, chicken, or veal in wine sauce||Cannoli, spumoni, and tartufo|
|Chicken or veal piccatta|
|Chicken or veal scaloppini|
|Pizza with fresh vegetable toppings|
|*Lightly marinated mushrooms|
|Fresh Italian bread|
|*Fresh fruit or sorbet|
|*Skim milk cappuccino|
|Wine in moderation|
More on: Children's Nutritional Needs
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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