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A menu of healthy options

For a special occasion many of us enjoy going out to a nice restaurant and treating ourselves to some deliciously prepared food.

While there's nothing wrong with indulging every now and again, for those who dine out more regularly it's a good idea to go to a restaurant armed with some healthy eating habits.

Many restaurants have started posting their menus on their websites, which makes it easier to plan your meal before you even hit the restaurant, explains Thomas Frost, executive chef at Fairmont Hamilton Princess.

Fairmonts across the globe have implemented an initiative to create healthy menu options called Lifestyle Plus for their guests.

At Bermuda's two Farimonts Hamilton and Southampton their menus reflect the fresh meats and produce that can be found on the Island.

“We look for what's available on the Island as it's all about flavour and presentation and that's throughout all of our menus,” explains Mr Frost. “As much as possible we try to use local sustainable produce from local fisherman and farmers. They can't always supply enough so we do have to think our menus through, especially our Lifestyle Plus menus.”

The Lifestyle Plus menus include menu options for those leading several different dietary restrictions. They include gluten free, diabetes, macrobiotic, heart healthy, vegan and raw diets.

“But the menus are available to all guests who may see something they would like to try,” says Mr Frost.

In the past the hotel designated their healthier meal options with a logo. Many restaurants are starting to add these logos to their menus to make it easier to identify their healthier dishes.

But without the guides of healthy menus and logos, there are few other things that people should be mindful about when eating out.

“Look for pop words like fried, creamy, cheesy these should be avoided,” says Mr Frost. “The healthiest option is a high protein, low carb option.”

One third of the plate should be protein while the remainder should be filled with vegetables and potato, legume or rice of some kind, he says.

Words to look for include poached, grilled, baked or broiled.

And while making food decisions is a personal choice, Mr Frost says that your server should be able to guide you through the menu.

“Servers should have a thorough knowledge of the menu and know how each dish is cooked,” he says. “They should know as much about the dish as the chef.”

Mr Frost says that many chefs are also willing to make substitutions if requested.

“While many dishes are prepared to match certain flavours if you see a dish you like but a sauce from another dish sounds healthier just ask. If the dish calls for French fries on the side but you'd rather a baked potato just ask.”

While there are many foods that people have always believed to be healthy, they can be a dietary nightmare in disguise, including salads.

“When ordering a salad ask for the dressing on the side. You might not eat it all and I find that many restaurants overdress their salads. It's a good idea to stay away from creamy dressings and ask if the dressing have been made or bought.”

And while he advises going easy on the sauces, he adds that everything should be eaten in moderation.

“Sauce is meant to be a flavour enhancer and is not meant to drown the food.”

Moderation should also be practiced when ordering drinks with a meal, he says.

“Factor in to the meal what you'll be drinking. Drinks add calories. A glass of red wine is fine but moderation is important.”

Bermudian cuisine often gets a bad rap, but Mr Thomas says that it's often how we prepare the food and what we eat with it that turns it into unhealthy fare.

“Dishes like fish chowder, peas and rice, local fish cooked the right way are all healthy options. Pan fry cod fish cakes rather than deep frying and don't add French fries on the side. A dish like codfish breakfast is actually a well-balanced meal where you have your protein, carbs and vegetables. These are fundamentally good dishes but it's what we put next to it that turns it bad,” he says.

Grilled mahi mahi with a pumpkin seed crust from the Heart Healthy menu at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.

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Published February 23, 2012 at 11:00 am (Updated February 23, 2012 at 11:19 am)

A menu of healthy options

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