Alterations: Not Just for Seamstresses

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My friend, Sandy, has a meeting in New York City next month and asked if I’d like to tag along. Would I? I’m already halfway packed. (OK, I have a tendency not to unpack after trips: I’m always halfway packed.)

Since Sandy has never been to NYC before, and I’ve been there often enough (thanks to marrying a Brooklyn native) to actually be able to get around—using public transportation,
yet—I’m in charge of food and entertainment.

While doing some research, I watched a trailer from an Off-Broadway show that included the line, “…you have to pick something on the menu and alter it beyond all recognition.”

And it wasn’t even talking about people with diabetes! You mean there are others out there just like “‘us,” only different? Zowie!

I’m a very picky eater. I don’t mean the kind like my grandchildren, who will only eat certain things and won’t try new dishes. There are foods I can take or leave, but about the only thing I absolutely won’t touch is Brussels sprouts. My mother made me eat them when I was a kid and I vowed that, when I was on my own, Brussels sprouts would never enter my home.

Nope. By “‘picky,” I mean that if I have to mentally or physically weigh it, measure it, or count it and commit math before I can eat it, it’s going to be good. Another rule is that I don’t drink carbs. If I’m going to ingest carbs, I’m going to chew them. (That last rule does not hold true for fruity frozen drinks consumed while draped on a lounge chair near a body of water. Any body of water. Including the kiddie pool.) I also avoid fatty foods as much as possible (except when it comes to truly exceptional desserts or maybe some awesome pastrami). Frankly, I don’t like to have to deal with the hassle of getting dietary-fat-induced high blood glucose levels back down.

Therefore, I’ve been known to “pick something on the menu and alter it beyond all recognition.”

“On that thick-crust, ‘kitchen sink’ pizza: Could you make it a thin crust, go light on the sauce, pile it up with mushrooms, onions, and zucchini only, and top it off with a sprinkling of Parmesan instead of all that melty cheese stuff?”‘

“Whaddaya mean, you only have mango iced tea? Fine. How about a tea bag, a cup of hot water, and a large glass packed with ice cubes?” Oh, yes, I have. Just ask my mortified dining mates. And this from me, who grew up on Southern-style iced tea. (For those of you scratching your heads, “‘Southern-style” iced tea is sugar flavored with just a tad of tea.)

Whether you “‘pick something on the menu” etc., or just order what you believe is a healthy dish, it might behoove you to look up the nutrition content of your favorite restaurant dishes. The Web site is a good place to start. Click on “‘browse foods,” and you’ll see an area for fast foods, restaurants, and eating out.

I knew that my favorite food at one restaurant probably wasn’t the healthiest in the world, but I didn’t go there often (and, frequently, couldn’t eat the whole portion anyway). But, when I checked, I found out that it has 1,260 calories with 70 grams of total fat and 31 grams of saturated fat. And that’s the luncheon portion. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that if the calorie count has a comma in it, it can’t be all that good for you.

Just for fun, I checked a salad from the same restaurant’s healthy fare choices. It has 990 calories, with 83 grams of total fat and 23 grams of saturated fat.

But that was with the dressing. Without it, the calorie count dropped to 670, with 46 grams of total fat and 17 grams of saturated fat.

Wow. With the savings from waving off the dressing, maybe I could afford (health-wise) to have a couple of bites of that entrée I like—and used to eat.

Bottom line? You have to be careful out there. Things aren’t always as they seem. So feel free to alter it…and maybe check the nutrition information on your faves before you head out for the restaurant.

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