Dining out healthy

A few weeks ago I came across an article on CNN providing some healthy tips for eating out. The topic is definitely getting more attention nowadays, because just this morning I saw on the news how fat affects your bloodstream after eating ‘bad’ food and ‘good’ food.

Santa Fe Salad
Santa Fe Salad

Although most Americans want more healthy choices in a restaurant, they don’t always go for it. As a matter of fact only 20% of about 2000 polled earlier this year, indicated health food as an important factor. Of course this is a small sample of the entire population, but considering that 2/3 of adults in the U.S. are obese, there must be some truth in the numbers. Source: Trust for America’s Health

The CNN article highlights the healthier options in a variety of restaurant, most of which I already (intuitively?) knew.

Chinese.
In general I find Chinese food in the U.S. a lot saltier then in Suriname or Holland, especially in dishes with (brown) sauce. The same goes for grease content. My preference is steamed rice with a vegetable/meat stir-fry dish. Stir-fry dishes are good because they are cooked quickly with a little bit of oil at very high heat.

Sandwich shop.

Egg sandwich
Egg sandwich

Although whole-grain bread is highly recommended, I have to admit that I prefer French bread when buying a sandwhich. Fortunately this doesn’t happen too often because I normally choose things I can’t make well or at all. I hardly use any butter or mayo on my bread and don’t stack up on deli meat because I still want to taste the bread.

Imagine my horror when I found this website with pictures of artery clogging sandwiches that would make you fat just looking at them!

Italian.
Steer away from anything deep-fried or cooked in butter, instead go for grilled, broiled or poached. And if you must have something with butter (because it tastes so good!), be very conservative. Good thing I can’t stomach dishes that are too rich or creamy.

Japanese.
Since I would prefer tempura over sushi (I know, I know, it’s totaly wrong), I’d better stay away from these restaurants. Tempura is deepfried food, coated in a light batter. The funny thing I discovered is that this Japanese dish is from Portuguese origin!

Sushi may be healthier because it involves fermented rice and fish that is usually salted, but I can’t get over the smell and taste of uncooked fish. Nevertheless, a lot of people I know love sushi and can eat it almost every day.
More on Tempura or Sushi.

Steakhouses

Sobrebarriga a La Brasa
Sobrebarriga a La Brasa
On special occassions and if I’m in the mood for it, I’d like to have a steak. However, I would never choose that 12 oz slab of red meat. A fillet mignon is plenty and honestly, going to a Brazilian or Argentine steakhouse is wasted on me because I just can’t eat so much meat. But for those who do like it, which in my experience are usually guys, it is recommended to go for the lean cuts (sirloin) or to split a dish.

Mexican.
Glad I never really liked burritos because those are killer when filled with cheese and meat. My all time preference is fajita beef, chicken or shrimp with grilled vegetables or a salad. Refried beans seem to be a big no no, but who can resist the avocado guacamole? Fortunately avocados contain the good fat.

As you can see, dining out can be a heatlhy experience depending on the choices you make. I also think that moderation plays a big role in eating healthy, whether at home or in a restaurant. If the restaurant portions are big, either split or take half of it home for later. Not only is it healthier, but doing so can save you money too.

Read the entire CNN article on heart healthy food.

To learn more about Good Morning America’s report, go to how fat affects your bloodstream.

Culinary adventure in Holland (part 2 of 3)

The Wedding week in Den Haag.

Throughout the week we had home cooked meals prepared by Mom or me. Curry fish, eggplant or bitter melon with shrimp or cured beef, pom. One day I cooked spaghetti and on another day, chicken in soy sauce with rice and cauliflower. Nothing fancy since we were doing finishing touches for the wedding.

Boerendochter?

Entrecote sandwich
Entrecote sandwich
We went out for lunch to this cool place at a pond, sitting in the sun. I never sit in the sun, but after experiencing the cold breeze that goes through Holland sometimes, I could understand why the Dutch love to bask in the sun! My lunch consisted of a small loaf of French bread with grilled entrecote (pork tenderloin), lettuce and peanut sauce.

My dad selected some kind of omelet called “boeren dochter” (farmer’s daughter) but when it was served,

Boerendochter omelet
Boerendochter omelet
he was startled by the size. It appeared to be a huge omelet and he promptly said: “oh no, that’s not the daughter, it must be the “boerin” (farmer’s wife)”. We were all laughing, including the waiter.

Vleesbroodje or Empanada?
Most department stores I’ve visited in Holland have a lunchroom. How convenient is that?! We were in the HEMA one day and decided to grab lunch

Vleesbroodje
Vleesbroodje
before starting our shopping marathon. A cup of coffee sounded really good and I have to say that I never drank so much tea and coffee in my life, but now I know why Europeans do (to stay warm? and… to take a break!).
The cafeteria served pastries, sandwiches, muffins, cookies, and my favorite item: ‘vleesbroodjes!’ A savory pastry-like sandwich stuffed with (ground) meat, that I grew up on in Suriname. Never found anything like it in the States, except for Empanadas which taste totally different. This was Déjà vu after 20 years!

Best patat in Den Haag.

Patat friet
Patat friet
On another occasion Grace took us to the best patat in Den Haag. We had to go shopping first to kill time, because the owner had not even opened his mini cafeteria yet. Honestly, that place could not have been bigger than my dining room! But the patat (French or I should say ‘Dutch’ fries) were really good, served with mayo and peanut sauce, both very common in Holland. Yes, I noticed it too, peanut sauce goes on anything. I’m used to it in Javanese cooking, but the Dutch throw it on anything! Interesting combination, but it tasted great!

Lunch after decorating in Scheveningen.

Broodje gezond
Broodje gezond

Day of the wedding we had lunch at the Beachclub Copacabana in Scheveningen after decorating for the wedding later in the afternoon. I decided to get a salad with chicken and avocado and was pleasantly surprised. My cousin had a “broodje gezond” (healthy sandwich) piled with lettuce, tomato and cheese, which must have been a good 5 inches (10 cm) high.


Wedding dinner at Copacabana (Scheveningen).

Dinner during the wedding looked and was great! Didn’t eat much, since I was coordinating, but I remember the tomato-mozzarella cheese salad, potato salad, coleslaw, fries, grilled chicken,

Wedding at Copacabana
Wedding at Copacabana
steak, gambas (huge shrimps), pork, fish packets, courgette (zucchini) and more. Wow, it was another food fest. Late night snacks: barras (spiced Indian dumplings) and loempias (Javanese eggrolls). The day before my husband had prepared fruit punch from various tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple, oranges, guava, some of which were freshly squeezed or blendered. The wedding was super! Good food, good atmosphere, fun people, good DJ, bachata dance lesson, salsa performance, flamenco performance (me), yes, it had been a lot of fun.

If you missed it, here’s Part 1 or go to Part 3

Quick salsa dip

I got this quick salsa dip from my Irish friend Ruth, who loves Mexican food! It’s really too easy to mess up and much better than salsa in a jar.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Salsa dip
Salsa dip

2 tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1 green chilli (or red if you prefer, green just looks nicer)
juice of 1/2 lime

Chop all of the above finely, mix together and enjoy.  Keep in the fridge if you’re not using it immediately, but it only stays fresh for about 24 hours.

Photo: Closet Cooking

Tip:

Salsa is also called ‘Pico de Gallo’ and to make it more Mexican, you can add some freshly chopped cilantro.

Culinary adventures in Holland (part 1 of 3)

Honey I’m baaack!!

Dutch windmill in the city
Dutch windmill in the city

It’s been weeks since my last entry, but for a good reason!

At the end of May I went to Holland for my sister’s wedding, taking some time to visit friends and family as well. Whenever we go see family, it’s ripping and running (as much as jetlag allows) and there is not much time for checking emails let alone write a post. But, it was a great trip, great weather, great food, not-so-great food, great people, you get the drift.

I’ll spare the details, but back in the U.S.A. it took us almost a month, between jetlag, a new granddaughter, and the Sranandei celebration, to get back into our normal routines.

Since it’s food-related, I’ll cover the Sranandei celebration in a separate post but if you want to know what it’s all about, go to our Sranandei blog.

Now that I’ve got my reasons for being ‘quiet’ in June out of the way, I can get to the real topic of this post: my culinary adventures in Holland.

We did not eat out a lot because family and friends invited us over for lunch or dinner and that was great for several reasons. We ate home-cooked food of excellent quality, enjoyed some traditional dishes prepared by experts in our circle of friends, family, and it saved us a bundle. Eating out is NOT cheap in the Netherlands and you’ll easily spend €15 ($20) per person on a simple lunch that includes a sandwich with juice and/or coffee. Still, most restaurants and cafes I saw were crowded, probably due to the really nice weather.

Birthday in Almere.

Susan cooks bami
Susan cooks bami

Our first (big) dinner was at my friend’s place in Almere. Susan was celebrating her birthday on Saturday and took two days to cook for her party. All she allowed me to do was washing the dishes, cutting onions, and taking it easy. I’m used to helping out where ever I go so it made me feel restless and guilty, but she was firm.

Honey roasted chicken
Honey roasted chicken

The food was great and she is officially my “superwoman” friend, cooking

everything by herself in two days. Not unusual? Wait until you see the list: bami, roasted chicken, pitjil, sambal, sweet and sour duck, roasted pork, satés, pom, bojo, prune rum cake, and more.

Dinner in Leiden.

Appelvlaai & Kwarktaart
Appelvlaai & Kwarktaart

On Sunday we stayed in Leiden and ate dinner at Wilma’s who prepared chips (fries) and fish, with a killer red beet salad (I need to get the recipe). Dessert? Dutch apple pie (called appelvlaai) and my favorite: ‘kwarktaart’ with peaches, a thick yoghurt-like pie . It was awesome!

Birthday in The Hague (Den Haag).

On Monday Donald, my brother-in-law, invited us for dinner to his favorite

Indonesische Rijsttafel
Indonesische Rijsttafel

Indonesian restaurant, Dulang, in Den Haag to celebrate his birthday. The “Indonesische rijsttafel” is very popular in Holland and consists of at least 10 small dishes with a variety of food such as: chicken, beef, goat, pork, boiled eggs, stewed in a curry or tomato sauce, beef stir fried in coconut (dry), chicken/beef saté, vegetables with peanut sauce (pitjil) and steamed rice.

Coconut drink
Coconut drink

My sister recommended as appetizer (normally served as dessert) a huge coconut drink with green syrup and young coconut ‘meat’. Never had it before but it was delicious!

(to be continued)

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