Sack the Sauce, Not the Flavor

ID-100268256Just because you order a vegetable based, pasta, or grilled entrée doesn’t mean you have protected your arteries. You also have to be aware of the type of sauces they are going to place on top of your meal.

A simple question to ask is whether or not the sauce that comes with your order is cream based. Restaurants’ grilled options often come with a thick cream-based sauce that is butter loaded. Learn to spot and avoid the creamy sauces that turn a healthy option into a source of LDL cholesterol splinters that harm your arteries. A simple way to order is to ask that all sauces be placed on the side. Then you can determine whether it is a cheese sauce or cream or butter based, and if so, you leave it sitting beside your plate.

Learn to recognize culinary terms that might pose a problem. For example, Alfredo sauce is a common cream and based sauce. “Braised” typically means that a meat is stewed in its own fat, which constitutes the sauce that comes with it. Also, in restaurants it is standard practice to put a pat of butter to melt on top of a just grilled piece of chicken or fish.

It is your meal! You can ask for alternatives, such as…

  • Replacing a creamy Alfredo sauce with a tomato-based marinara or basil sauce for pasta. Also, remember to ask them to hold the cheese that is typically sprinkled and baked on top.
  • Ask for a splash of olive oil on the side for your baked potato instead of butter and sour cream.
  • Ask that vegetables be steamed or sautéed with a spray of olive oil instead of butter.
  • Verify that your grilled fish or chicken be prepared without butter.
  • Up the flavor of your order with blackened spices, a wine or fat-free broth-based glaze, or fresh cut green onion or herbs.
  • Squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice or use the zest on dishes for a fresh, light twist that makes your taste buds sing.

As for salads, always ask for a fat-free dressing and for the dressing to be placed on the side rather than on the salad. That way you control the amount you use. Even fast-food restaurants have an assortment of salads now, including a variety of healthy toppings and fat-free dressings. It is a shame to sit at a restaurant and watch someone drown their salad with dressing and then sprinkle cheese all over it. High fat dressings can add up to four hundred calories, and sprinkled cheese can add another hundred. Even more significant than the additional calories is the saturated fat being added.




“Spoon” photo courtesy of MrGC at