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Ethnic Cuisine: "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"

Indian Food

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.

Include Avoid

*Tamata saladAnything made with ghee (clarified butter)
*Mulligatawny soup (lentils, veggies, and spices)Coconut soups
*Chicken or beef tikkaSamosas (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 kabobCreamy 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 saucesKulcha (leavened, baked bread)
*Chapati (thin, dry whole-wheat bread) 
*Mango, mint, and onion chutney 

Italian Food

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.

Include Avoid

*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 pastasAntipasto salad with high-fat meats and cheese
Pasta with meatless marinara sauceCheese- or meat-filled ravioli and manicotti
Pasta primavera (not creamy) Meat lasagna and cheesy vegetarian lasagna
Pasta with red and white clam sauceCannelloni and baked ziti
Pasta with marsalaChicken, veal, or eggplant parmigiana
*Chicken breast with red sauceFettuccine alfredo and pasta carbonara
*Chicken cacciatoreShrimp scampi
*Shrimp, chicken, or veal in wine sauceCannoli, 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
Italian ices
*Skim milk cappuccino
Wine in moderation

Next: Page 3 >>

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.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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