It’s a fact: Americans love eating out. We blog, Tweet, and post about it. It’s very gratifying to share a meal with friends or family while taking a break from cooking at home. Even while on a diet, you may give yourself a pass to “treat yourself” or overindulge while dining at your favorite restaurant. But have you ever thought about what you are eating and where the restaurant purchased their food? Well, it is quite eye-opening!

main thumb shutterstock_21770500-thumb-615x300-80817Dining out will make you fat and very unhealthy! Unless you are dining at a health food type restaurant (which are few in number), the average restaurant meal is usually between 1,000-1,500 calories. Studies show that we eat about 40 percent more when we are in groups as opposed to eating alone. However, the main reason we eat more is due to the portion size at restaurants, usually much larger than we would consume at home.

The goal of most restaurants is to make a profit, not to provide healthy foods that will reduce your risk for heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Because they want you to come back, most restaurants will provide foods that simply taste good but are high in fat in forms of processed oils, trans fat, butter and lard. Even the healthier options can still be loaded with calories. And don’t forget the high amounts of sugar including high fructose corn syrup, a cheap form of sweetener.

Since profit is the main goal, most restaurants are not serving high quality food.  Unless they advertise themselves as providing truly healthier options like grass-fed/organic meats, USA or Canadian wild-caught fish or organic grains, fruits and vegetables, they are likely serving you genetically modified foods (GMOs). Since 60-75 percent of grocery foods are genetically modified, the likelihood is pretty great that these cheaper sources of food will be found in restaurants.

In addition to harmful GMOs, you may also end up eating industrially bred and raised food loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. There are alarming and unhealthy practices that go on at a CAFO facilities (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). The problem begins at the massive CAFOs where cows, chickens, and pigs are fed genetically modified corn, soybeans, and excessive grains in general (not their natural diet, i.e. grass), along with many other unbelievable feed ingredients such as:

  • Plastics: this is used for many animals whose digestive systems need more roughage to pass through them, thus CAFOs are now feeding them plastic pellets.
  • Manure and animal feces: this can include cattle manure, swine and poultry waste. It also can include wood, sand, sawdust and other non-food substances.
  • Roxarsone: more commonly named arsenic, which until recently was put into chicken and pig feed to control parasites, though Nitarsone (another arsenic-based poultry drug) is still approved. Chicken litter (containing the arsenic that passes through the birds) is also collected from chicken CAFOs and is fed surprisingly to feedlot cattle.
  • Animal byproducts: categorized as “animal protein products,” this includes hair, skin, hooves, blood, internal organs, intestines, beaks and bones, dead horses, euthanized cats and dogs, and road kill.

Fast foods do not fare any better, and are usually chemically laden for shelf life and profit. Two examples of synthetic chemicals in popular fast food chicken nuggets are:

  • Dimethyl polysiloxane: a type of silicone with anti-foaming properties used in cosmetics and variety of other goods like Silly Putty
  • Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ): a petroleum-based product that has antioixidant properties.

Due to all of the processing (added sugars and other ingredients), studies have shown that eating fast food just twice a week, can cause you to gain excess weight, but even more alarming is that it doubles your risk of developing insulin resistance, the driving force behind many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Try these strategies for making healthier decisions while dining out.

  • Reserve dining out for special occasions, not a bi-weekly habit.
  • Seek out healthier-minded restaurants using seasonal, sustainable, non-GMO, organic, free range, or wild-caught ingredients and dedicated to preparing meals with healthy fats in mind.
  • Ask questions about where they buy their foods.
  • Avoid fast food as much as possible unless they advertise a truly healthier option as mentioned earlier.

AsianLettuceCupsReady to regain control over the food that you put into your body? Here is a recipe for a delicious, Chinese-inspired appetizer or meal that will surely impress your friends and family! Enjoy!

Asian Lettuce Cups

  • 1 1/4 lb. 93% lean, free-range/organic ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp cold pressed/organic oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger (can use fresh equivalent if desired)
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced organic green onions (about 4)
  • 1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 12 Boston lettuce leaves (or organic iceberg)
  • 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce (recipe below)
  • 2 Tbsp lower-sodium organic gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp organic rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. roasted red chili paste, organic if possible
  • 1/8 tsp. whole mineral salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground organic black pepper

 

Homemade Hoisin Sauce

  • 4 Tbsp. lower-sodium organic gluten free soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. organic white vinegar (or lemon/lime juice)
  • 1 tsp. organic sesame seed oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted organic unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. organic/raw honey, molasses or brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. hot sauce/chili sauce (this will vary depending on your preference)

Mix together until blended.  (Note: may need to slightly heat the sauce to disperse the peanut butter more uniformly)

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add turkey, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for about 6 minutes or until turkey is browned. Stir to crumble. Combine turkey mixture, onions and chopped water chestnuts in a large bowl, stirring well, and set aside.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and roasted red chili paste, salt, pepper and drizzle over the turkey mixture. Toss to coat completely. Add about 1/4 cup turkey mixture to each lettuce leaf, serve, and enjoy!

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