Chances are at least a few of us have once again vowed to eat healthy in the new year. And, chances are, those of us who have made that resolution will run into a big challenge: how do you eat healthy when you're eating out?
Susan Laughlin of New Hampshire Magazine has been pondering this very question, and she has some encouraging tips - mostly related to soup.
Laughlin says people run into trouble eating out because it's often difficult to know exactly what's in the food. "Some chefs, the way they make the food good is they put in extra salt, they put in extra butter, and all we know is that it tastes good," she says. "And if we knew how many calories were in some of these glorious dishes, we would be a little bit appalled." Even seemingly healthy options can be laden with hidden calories - salads, for example, may appear like healthy options but can have extra nuts or fattening dresses that bump the calorie and fat counts way up.
That said, there are some efforts to bring healthier options to menus across the state. Laughlin says a number of restaurants have started listing low-calorie and low-fat entrees, the way they might list a vegetarian or gluten-free option. In New Hampshire, a number of restaurants are participating in the Turn a New Leaf program, which signifies a lower calorie number. "If it's a small restaurant and the chefs don't have the knowledge to find out how many calories or cholesterol is in certain items," Laughlin says, "they'll offer dietitians to come in and work with them so they can figure that out."
Of course, the number of restaurants offering calorie counts is relatively small. One option when you're eating out when you don't have nutritional information handy is soup, and Laughlin says there are plenty of standalone soup places in New Hampshire, many that emphasize local and/or organic ingredients. Among the soup producers that have caught her attention: Soup Gallery in Concord, What a Crock at the International Marketplace at Pease, The Soup Guy in Dover and the Collins Brothers Chowder Co. in Nashua.
Me, I plan on eating plenty of soup this year - I like to whip up a big vat of butternut squash soup and eat it for like three days. Which is probably enough to last me in case I lose my nerve and refuse to go back out in the winter storm.