Are you intent on enjoying a healthy Valentine’s Day entree with your special someone? If so, there’s a good chance that steak, fondue, or pasta is on the menu: these traditional Valentine’s foods are hallmark menu items every 14th of February.
If you’re hoping to enjoy a nice night out without totally throwing your diet out the window, we’ve got a few tips to enjoy a healthy Valentine’s Day entree without the post-dinner regret.
Interactive fondue experiences are fun for two or for the whole family. Choose a bouillon preparation for proteins and veggies rather than a bourguignonne. The latter relies on hot oil to cook ingredients rather than broth, adding an additional 100-200 Calories to your order. And go easy on the cheese fondue: per 2 tbsp, expect 70-100 Calories, or 35-50 Calories per dipped piece.
Looking to slim your entree further? Choose cut fruit and veggies rather than bread as sides, and choose seafood, poultry, or lean beef for your entree.
The Melting Pot’s Land and Sea- featuring chicken, shrimp, and steak- prepared with bouillon, for example, contains only 265 Calories, making it quite a healthy Valentine’s Day entree selection. Compare that to the French Quarter Selection prepared with court bouillon, which contains 883 Calories, thanks to the inclusion of andouille sausage.
Steak is perhaps the most popular Valentine’s meal. Regardless of whether you’re ordering a Ribeye or Tenderloin, skip the compound butters: in all likelihood, your steak will have already had butter or oil added in preparation, making compound butters an unnecessary addition.
A 10 oz Filet from The Capital Grille, for example, contains 490 Calories. Adding a compound butter to that order brings the total to 690 Calories, and that’s without sides.
An 8 oz filet from family chain black angus contains 400 Calories, with a gourmet butter addition bringing the total to 600 Calories.
Paying attention to side choices can also help manage your order. Choosing an order of Grilled Asparagus at the Capital Grille rather than an order of Mashed Potatoes, for example, saves nearly 400 Calories. Choosing an order of Fresh Broccoli from Black Angus rather than a Loaded Baked Potato saves 340 Calories. To make this a healthy Valentine’s Day entree, request the butter to be skipped and choose the lighter sides.
If a romantic night of pasta and amore is on the menu, turn your eye to overlooked entrees on the light menu, rather than the typical lasagna and pasta dishes.
A serving of Lasagna typically contains 800-1000 Calories depending on venue, with The Old Spaghetti Factory’s version coming in at 810 Calories, and upscale, classic Italian eateries churning out heartier, bechamel-cloaked versions contain even more.
Keep in mind that even relatively simple-sounding dishes may contain more Calories than you bargained for: The Old Spaghetti Factory Clam Sauce and Mizithra special contains 1000 Calories, for example: the equivalent of nearly ⅓ of a lb of fat.
Even dishes like Chicken Piccata and Chicken Marsala tend to be heavy hitters thanks to butter and oil, with many versions containing 800+ Calories. An order of Marsala from the Old Spaghetti Factory packs 1000 Calories, while Buca Di Beppo’s version contains 360 Calories- which sounds great, until you consider that Buca lists all small entrees according to a ½ plate serving, or ⅙ plate serving for a large.
Meanwhile, an order of Cioppino or Steamed Mussels and Clams will cost you a mere 500 Calories. Ditto for a Chicken Caesar salad with the dressing applied lightly (hold the croutons!).
With these hacks to enjoy a healthy Valentine’s Day entree, you can focus on the love in the air, rather than worrying about what might happen to your waistline. Is dessert in the plans for your romantic evening? We’ve got your healthy Valentine’s Day dessert hacks too!
Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).