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

Japanese Food

The Japanese have perfected low-fat cooking with food-preparation methods that require little or no oil. Highlighting rice, vegetables, soybean-based foods, and small quantities of fish, chicken, and meat, these meals are artistic, healthy, and, best of all, delicious. What's more, once you master the art of using chopsticks, Japanese dining can be a lot of fun. The one drawback is the high-sodium marinades and traditional sauces, which include soy and teriyaki. Ask your waiter whether low-sodium soy sauce is available—and if it isn't, dilute the regular with some water.

Include Avoid

*Miso soup (soybean-paste soup with tofu and scallions)Vegetable tempura (battered and fried veggies)
*Steamed vegetablesShrimp tempura
*Fish and vegetable sushiEel and avocado rolls
*Sashimi (raw fish served with wasabi and dipping sauce)Tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet)
*Hijiki (cooked seaweed)Fried dumplings
*Oshitashi (boiled spinach with with soy sauce)Fried bean curd
*Yaki-udonOyako domburi (chicken omelet over rice)
*Yakitori (skewers of chicken)Chawan mushi (chicken and shrimp in egg custard)
*Su-udonYo kan (sweet bean cake)
*Sukiyaki 
Sushi and sashimi (pieces and rolls) 
*Yellowtail, *tuna, *salmon, *crab, and *shrimp 
*Edamame 
*Nabemono (a variety of casseroles) 
*Yosenabe (seafood and veggies in broth) 
*Miso-nabe 
Shabu-shabu (sliced beef, vegetables, and noodles) 
*Sumashi wan (broth with tofu and shrimp) 
*Chicken, fish, or beef teriyaki 
Steamed rice 

Mexican Food

If your taste buds cry out for hot and spicy, Mexican food is probably high on your list of favorites. Unfortunately, some typical dishes on a Mexican menu can send you straight to nutrition jail. On a positive note, Mexican food can be healthy, especially because many dishes are high in complex carbohydrate and fiber; you just need to manage the menu. For example, those fried tortilla chips can be addictive. If you typically gobble down three baskets before your food even arrives, get them off the table. Stick with cheeseless entrees that include beans, rice, and grilled chicken or fish, and use plenty of salsa in place of high-fat sour cream and guacamole. (Although guacamole made from avocado is unsaturated, it still has a lot of fat.)

Include Avoid

*Gazpacho Tortilla chips
Corn tortillas with salsa Nachos with cheese
*Chicken fajitas Chorizo (sausage)
Enchiladas Carnitas (fried beef)
*Camarones de hacha (shrimp sautéed in tomato coriander sauce) Refried beans
*Arroz con pollo (chicken breast with rice)Quesadillas with cheese
Cheeseless burritosBeef tacos
*Grilled fish or chicken breastBurritos with cheese
Frijoles a la charraBeef and cheese enchilada
Borracho beans and riceChimichangas
*Soft chicken tacoSour cream and guacamole
Chicken burrito (no cheese)Sopapillas (fried dough with sugar)
Chicken tostadaFrozen margaritas and piña coladas
*Salsa, pico de gallo, and cilantro
*Jalapeño peppers
*Ceviche (raw fish cooked in lime or lemon juice)


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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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