As January winds down and we begin to make beer-guzzling and wing-noshing plans for Super Bowl Sunday, it’s easy to forget the resolutions we were eagerly practicing at the start of the month. To ensure that no one falls of the healthful eating wagon, we recently spoke with Kathy Fang to get her tips on how to dine out regularly without breaking the scale. Having grown up in her dad’s restaurant, the House of Nanking, and as a chef and restaurant owner herself (her namesake restaurant Fang features delicious Chinese-style dishes in SOMA), Fang is forced to make wholesome eating choices on a daily basis — she says that “being a chef and eating out can prove to be challenging at times when you are trying to watch what you eat and maintain a healthy diet.” To keep her figure lean, Fang focuses on finding balance by eating “lots of lean proteins, some healthy grains, and lots of vegetables.” She avoids processed and packaged foods, consumes little dairy and prefers to cook with healthy oils and grass-fed butter. Below, she shares her guide to eating out while staying fit.
1. Always start with appetizers. “Ordering an appetizer always deters you from ordering a large heavy entrée,” Fang says. When selecting appetizers, she opts for salads with no cheese or vegetable based soups. “If they have raw fish, that’s even better. Raw oysters, ceviche, smoked salmon, or tuna tartare are all great starters. Low in fat but high in lean protein.”
2. Select an alcoholic beverage that has little to no sugar. “Martinis or vodka sodas are always better than some house cocktail made with some sugary syrup,” Fang advises. She also thinks that having a drink in your hand will prevent you from chowing down on the bread basket: “The fact that my hand is holding the glass or touching it makes me less likely to touch the bread that is sitting on the table. A cocktail to occupy your hands along with a conversation at the table means consuming less carbs.”
3. When choosing a main course, cross off dishes you can’t have first. “Anything that has potatoes in it you can eliminate or risottos or sauces that have lots of cream and butter. With what you have leftover, you can then choose the one that sounds the best to you. Don’t worry about what else is in it. Removing the basic “evils” listed above is enough,” Fang says. Look for dishes that are full in flavor and low in calories. For example, Fang says that at her restaurant she makes a “five-spice whitefish dish topped with jade spinach. The white fish is a lean protein sautéed with spinach and aromatics. It’s full of flavor but low on the calories.”
4. Moderation over deprivation. Fang doesn’t believe in depriving herself of all the amazing food that is out there and describes a life of food deprivation as “sheer torture.” Instead she recommends making wise eating decisions. “The important thing is learning when to indulge a bit to enjoy yourself and when not to indulge. Be picky with when and how you cheat.” If you want to have pizza, don’t get mediocre pizza at any old bar. Order a healthful salad from the bar menu and save your indulgence for when you end up at Delfina or A16. Fang says, “if I go to a top-notch Italian restaurant and they specialize in pizza and pasta, I’ll eat that and indulge without any qualms. But how often do you visit the best of the best? Certainly not everyday. So when you are eating out and you come across the usual tempting dishes, say no because you know you are saving that cheat meal for the best of the best.”
Photo Credit: Fang Restaurant