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Have you ever been on a special diet, either to lose weight or to watch your intake of sodium or cholesterol? You may have thought it was easier to stay home than try to find food that fits within your regimen. Or perhaps, you were tempted to throw caution to the wind and go off your diet.
With the Healthy Dining books, you can have the best of both worlds: fine dining while staying on a health track! Between the three volumes, you have access to nutritional information on offerings in several hundred restaurants in Southern California, including calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, carbohydrates, and even diabetic exchanges.
The introduction includes some guidelines for selecting a meal. Each item is rated with check marks for the various criteria. Two checks is excellent; one check is good. While some aspects of a dish may be excellent, there may be a downside. For example, an item might be an excellent choice in terms of calories, fat and cholesterol, but rated only moderate when it comes to sodium; those who are watching sodium intake would want to avoid such a choice.
To qualify for inclusion in a Healthy Dining book, a restaurant must demonstrate "a sincere interest in providing healthy foods and nutrition information." They must also have several choices on their menu which fall within the guidelines set forth, but in some cases, the folks who bring you Healthy Dining "will work with the chef to develop a 'Special Request" version that is lower in calories, fat, cholesterol and/or sodium than the original dish."
While it's possible that a particular dish may have been reworked to meet the healthy diner's needs, it might instead appear with the warning that you only eat half the served portion, or that you not consume something that comes on the plate.
The introduction also presents a lot of interesting and eye-opening information which is more general in nature when it comes to dining out. If you're not already familiar with evaluating foods, you'll find the presentation of several dozen food choices useful.
The main part of the book contains the menus. Each restaurant has its own page, in alphabetical order. At the top of each page, along with the restaurant's name and logo, is an enticing description of the kinds of food served and any pertinent history. This is followed by a dollar-sign rating for the average entree ($=under $10; $$=$10-$20; $$$= over $20) and the address(es) and phone number(s).
The entrees are listed below, and if they are reworked for healthy dining, the words "special request" appear next to the title. This is followed by a description which may warn you away from butter or sauces, or to remind you to request special preparation, such as using less oil.
Next comes the nutritional data. While the analysis rates calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium as excellent, good or moderate, protein and carbohydrate is presented as raw data, as are the diabetic exchanges.
The section following the menus is a health resouce guide. It includes food and contact information for such organizations as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association.
All three books also have recipes created by the chefs of many of the included restaurants. These, too, are rated for nutritional data and are indexed by type of dish, and again by the name of the restaurant which submitted them.
Finally, each volume contains a large section of coupons for dining in the restaurants included. Some are for a particular dollar amount or free item, while others are straight percentage discounts.
There is a wealth of information in these books, and Southern California diners will find these to be essential guides to restaurants as well as home food preparation. Use the coupons and you will also find that they pay for the book!
I highly recommend the Healthy Dining books. I use them myself
and have even given them as gifts. With any luck, those outside of
Southern California will find Healthy Dining guides which cover their areas.
To order your copies, click on the appropriate title:
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