ONE BLUE PLATE SPECIAL, COMING UP
Who doesn't love a good diner meal once in a while? From a made-to-order breakfast to a comforting old-fashioned meatloaf dinner and almost everything in between, you can find them all at a diner. While roadside diners' hey-day was 60-plus years ago, you can still find them scattered across our 50 states (as you surely know if you happen to be a fan of the Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.")
Even if you don't happen to live near an honest-to-goodness diner, there are several restaurants where you can find those classic American meals and all-day breakfasts.
But just how healthy are some of those good old, down-home items you'll find on those plastic-coated menus? Keep in mind that diners come from an era when doctors touted their favorite brand of cigarette in magazine ads, and getting some extra fat on your meat meant you were moving up in the world, financially speaking.
With the wide range of food available at diners, their nutritional profile is all over the map, but here are steps you can take to make a healthier selection:
1. Mix and match. Take advantage of the opportunity to order half a sandwich and pair it with a veggie-filled salad or broth-based cup of soup.
2. Learn the lingo. Melts are usually loaded with cheese. Crispy foods are most likely fried. Look for grilled, baked, and steamed.
3. Keep it simple. The more layers or "extras" a sandwich has, the higher the fat and calorie content--think bacon cheeseburgers, gravies, and more. Look for simple sandwiches and meals. Also, request sauces and toppings on the side so you can control the amount you use.
4. Watch the mayo. Tuna salad, egg salad, BLT--all diner faves, but also often loaded with mayonnaise. Don't assume because of their small size that they're low-cal choices. If you can, ask for the mayo on the side, or at least light on the mayo.
5. Portion size counts. Some diner meals are big enough to feed two. So, cut your calories, fat, and sodium in half by sharing your meal or taking half home for lunch the next day.
GOING NUTS FOR COCONUT MANNA
Everyone's gone crazy for coconuts--the fuzzy, round nut is the darling of the food world. New coconut products are lining up in natural food store shelves, such as Nutiva Coconut Manna, an organic, creamy coconut spread made from dried coconut flesh that can be used as an ingredient in foods or as a simple spread to replace butter, peanut butter or mayonnaise.
Coconut Manna is to coconuts what peanut butter is to peanuts; it's just milled coconut mixed with coconut oil for smoothness. Its calorie count, total fat, and fiber content are quite similar to peanut butter. Where the real difference lies is in Coconut Manna's fat profile. Peanut butter, as is the case with most nut butters, is low in saturated fats and high in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Coconut Manna is so high in saturated fats--one tablespoon provides eight grams--that it's solid at room temperature; you have to dip the jar in warm water in order to spread it.
Coconut Manna, essentially coconut butter, is made from real food found in nature--good, old-fashioned coconuts. You can't say that about some spreads, such as highly processed margarines and mayonnaise spreads (just read their ingredients list for proof.) And preliminary research indicates that coconuts may have anti-inflammatory properties. Sure, Coconut Manna is high in fat, but remember that today's health consensus is that our fat phobia over the past few decades has done more harm than good to our health, since we tended to replace fat in our diets with refined carbs, such as fat-free cookies filled with white flour and sugar.
Unfounded health claims for coconut fats, such as prevention of HIV, cancer and diabetes, abound on the Internet. Controversy still swirls around whether coconut fat, naturally high in saturated fat, is a "healthy" fat. Researchers in Asia, where coconut oil is widely consumed, present both sides of the debate.
Via: Chicago Tribune