WITH CHRIS SAKE
Now, more than ever, international cuisine is finding its way onto American tables. In fact, many believe that the foreign recipes are healthier than the home variety because they're low in fat. Unfortunately, these recipes often gain fat in their American translation. Oils, butter, cream and cheese are often added for taste.
The four most popular cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and Italian — often are misleading in their fat content. For instance, just because you're eating Chinese doesn't guarantee healthy eating. Too often we order egg rolls, cashew chicken or sweet and sour chicken, all of which are laden with fat. Choose instead chicken teriyaki, moo shu shrimp or vegetable stir fry, which are all kinder to the arteries.
When eating Japanese, eat shumaii (steamed dumplings) or yaki soba (stir-fried noodles) instead of shrimp tempura or chicken karst].
Mexican chili con queso, nachos and chimichangas are definitely no-no's. Chicken fajitas, black bean soup and Mexican rice are much better choices.
As for Italian food, steer clear of anything with creamy sauces like fettucine Alfredo. Chicken in wine sauce or pasta with marinara sauce is much healthier.
Sound too hard to choose the right foods? Here are some strategies that may be applied to any ethnic dish to help you stick to a more heart-smart lifestyle.
1) Eat more plant protein and less red meat.
2) Include a generous portion of bread with your meals.
3) Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones.
4) Have fresh fruit for dessert.
A MODEL PYRAMID
Six steps for healthier eating
Whatever happened to the basic four healthy food groups? If you're confused, you're not alone. The United States Department of Agriculture upgraded its basic four food groups into a pyramid model of healthful eating with six food categories. What are our preferred food choices in each group? The following chart may help you to choose the healthiest foods. It also tells you how many servings a day are recommended from each group.
BREAD, CEREAL, RICE & PASTA GROUP (6-11 servings daily)
• whole-wheat breads
• hot and cold cereals with less than 2 grams of fat
• rice cakes
FRUIT GROUP (2-4 servings daily)
• All fresh fruit
• 100% fruit juices VEGETABLE GROUP (3-5 servings daily)
• fresh steamed vegetables like broccoli and carrots
• dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach or collard greens
MILK, YOGURT & CHEESE GROUP (2-3 servings daily)
• nonfat or 1% milk I nonfat or low-fat cheese
• frozen yogurt with less than 3 grams of fat
MEAT, POULTRY, FISH, DRY BEANS, EGGS & NUTS GROUP (2-3 servings daily)
• egg whites
• skinless breast of chicken
• fresh fish and water-packed tuna
• dried beans or peas
FATS, OILS AND SWEETS GROUP (eat sparingly)
• Low-fat salad dressings (better yet — nonfat, but technically they don't belong in this category)
• mono- and polyunsaturated vegetable oils