Would you like Brussels sprouts fries with that?

Would you like Brussels sprouts fries with that?

Would you like Brussels sprouts fries with that?
Spinach-cheese egg bites have a little of everything we need for fueling up and starting the day right. Scroll down for the recipe. (Cindy Gershen photos)

Cindy Gershen, Farm to TasteCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (June 18, 2023) — There isn’t a restaurant that a healthy person can’t enjoy. Even many fast-food restaurants offer healthy menu items, such as salads or baked potatoes.

Before I go out to eat, I look up the restaurant’s menu online. You can also call ahead and ask the manager whether the restaurant offers steamed veggies and if you can get fish or chicken just broiled or grilled, without sauces. Chain restaurants must post the ingredients for every dish, including the sauces. Watch out for seed oils that don’t break down in your body.

If fish is on the menu, ask for it grilled rather than fried. When something is listed as fried, you want to know if it’s pan fried or deep fried. If a restaurant deep fries your Brussels sprouts, you might as well order French fries. Anything that is deep fried will come laden with saturated fats, which raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol.

Sometimes the restaurant staff will tell you the food item is popped in the deep fryer for “just a minute.” Even for a moment, it’s unhealthy. Typically, the oils in those deep fryers aren’t changed often enough, so you’re ingesting the fats that have gathered there for days and possibly weeks. For 40 years, I’ve gone without a deep fryer in my restaurant.

Ordering fresh

If you order a salad, get one without cheese, croutons or dried fruit. Ask them to leave off anything that is not a fresh vegetable. I don’t let them drench it, either. It’s not the big salad that’s going to get you — it’s the big ladle of dressing. I put measured amounts of olive oil and vinegar, and maybe lemon, on my salad.

Some restaurants make it easy. A shoutout to Urban Plates, a responsible chain with three locations in the East Bay and 14 in the Los Angeles area. I like to go to the one in Pleasant Hill. First of all, the food is good. Secondly, the Urban Plates website has a “Nutrition and Allergens” spreadsheet with 16 nutritional measurements for entrees and side dishes, including breakdowns for kids’ meals. They make it easy for you to plan ahead for a sensible meal.

Here’s a healthy option to make next time you want to eat at home.

Spinach-Cheese Egg Bites

Makes 5 servings

15 oz. brown rice, cooked*
1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed overnight and drained well
5 eggs, whipped
5 oz. ricotta cheese
4 oz. cheese (Jack, cheddar, feta)
½ oz. minced garlic
2 T flaxseed meal
2 T fresh dill, chopped, or 1 T dry dill
Two tsp. salt
About 15 cherry tomatoes, sliced in thirds lengthwise

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients except tomatoes. Fill 15 silicone muffin cups with batter. Top each with 2-3 cherry tomato slices. Bake for 25 minutes.

*You can substitute cooked faro, quinoa or potato for the rice.

For more information, visit cindygershen.com.

Cindy Gershen
Cindy Gershen

Cindy Gershen is an educator, nutritionist, chef, and co-author of “Fat Chance Cookbook.”