Grabbing a bite at the food court doesn’t just have to mean burgers and fries – try these delicious yet waistline-friendly options instead!
After zooming around the centre and checking off your errands and shopping list, you’ve worked up an appetite! But with the warmer season coming up, we’re all a little more aware of what we’re putting in our body.
So does a trip to the food court mean only greasy fries or salt-laden burgers? Absolutely not! It’s all about making smarter choices and it’s easier than you think.
From cafes, sandwich delis to the kebab shop and Chinese takeaway, just about every store offers a low-fat, nutritional choice these days if you know what to look for. Check out these scrumptious options that taste great without the guilt!
Salads are often the obvious choice, but be aware of potato and pasta salads; these can have a lot of dressing, salt and kilojoules in them, so portion control is the key. Stick with leafy green salads with grilled meats, topped lightly with vinaigrette or low-calories dressings. If you’re just looking for a light snack, try a small fruit salad – the natural sugars will give you the energy boost without the blood sugar spike-and-crash you get from chocolates and sweets.
For something a little more filling, go for a lean beef, chicken or tuna salad and ask for the dressing in a separate container so you can add it on yourself.
If you have the choice of combining different salads like most delis do, always choose two non-starchy vegetable based salads plus one that’s more substantial, be it the pasta, bean/legume or potato salad. If you haven’t tried quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’), give it a go!
The catch with eating out sometimes is that you can’t always control what goes into the dishes. So building your own sandwich at the deli is a great way to get more of the good things and the foods you love, but do it wrong and you may be eating as many calories as if you had ordered a pizza or a hamburger!
The trick is to know what to put in and what to leave out. Start with wholemeal bread, then choose a lean meat. Grilled chicken and turkey are the best. From there, load up on as many veggies as you like while avoiding sauces, mayonnaise or other heavy dressing. Cheese is OK in moderation too.
If you’re looking for a low-carb option, go for a wrap sandwich such as a falafel wrap loaded with veggies (hold the mayo). For something a little more substantial, you can still have a grilled burger if that’s what you’re craving, but ditch the top bun and opt for a small side salad instead of chips.
Although soups are often a good option, many can be full of cream and fat and comes with bread to help fill you up. Where possible, always choose a low-fat broth or vegetable-based soup. The best ones to look for are clear broths with meat or fish and noodles, like you’d find at the Asian takeaway. Soba, udon or egg noodles are great, but it’s best to avoid rice noodles.
While you’re here, poultry and vegetable stir fries are also a delicious lunch option, but best to hold off or at least minimise on the accompanying rice which is very high GI and make sure the chicken isn’t breaded.
There’s almost always a sushi shop at your local Stockland Centre, and they’re always a clean and tasty choice. Hand rolls are great to grab-and-go and two sushi rolls will fill you up and doesn’t come with a huge amount of calories. The seaweed wrap also contains an ingredient that is said to increase thyroid activity, which increases your metabolism. For a lighter choice, just order the sashimi with a small serve of the nutrient-packed seaweed salad.
If you haven’t tried a black rice version of your favorite roll, it’s worth giving it a try. Black rice contains more health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, more fibre and vitamin E antioxidants.
If you’re craving a little meat, there’s plenty of choice at the kebab shop. Grab a lean souvlaki (watch for the oilier fried versions) or a beef kebab with some fresh salads of your choice and the dressing on the side.
For a bigger meal, roast chicken – you can remove the skin – and a small baked spud topped with beans and vegetables is a great meal for a colder afternoon, but just remember to hold the sour cream.
If you’re just after a snack, pop into the local fresh food grocer and grab three or four pieces of fruit instead of tucking into a pot of chips and gravy. Best of all, it will only cost a few dollars.
If you’re just looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, grab a glass of 100% fruit juice or a fruit smoothie. It’s the fastest and tastiest way to get all those healthy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes while giving you a sustained energy boost. It’s best to juice it fresh but if you’re buying a pre-bottled version, check the ingredients and calorie counts, as some can pack up to 600 calories.
While we’re talking about beverages, switch your sugary drinks for a bottle of sparkling water instead – you’ll still feel refreshed but save on the extra calories and sugar. Milk based drinks- yes, even a coffee, is also one of the best options in a food court to go with your light lunch, as the protein and low GI carbs will at least help you feel full. Just remember, this should be counted as part of your meal, not an addition to whatever other food you order.
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