10 Hidden Restaurant Saboteurs

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Butter
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Butter
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Many dishes are “finished” with butter because it gives food an appetizing shine and thickness. Even if you order plain grilled meat or a nice, healthy side of vegetables, you can be nearly certain it has been finished with butter.

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Flickr/Jimmiehomeschoolmom

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Oil
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Oil
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Fat is a major contributor to taste. It keeps food moist and tender, gives texture and thickness to sauces, keeps food from sticking in the pan, and provides great mouthfeel. The reason that the grilled fish in a restaurant is so moist is because of fat used in the preparation that you wouldn’t use at home. Chefs use liberal amounts of oil for marinades, sautéing, and in sauces.

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Flickr/Kevan

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Fatty Meat
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Fatty Meat
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Restaurants have access to cuts and grades of meat that you don’t as a home cook. They are decadently marbled with fat, giving much more flavor, moistness, and of course, calories, to burgers and steaks. Even turkey burgers are often made with poultry skin. The extra fat in the skin keeps turkey burgers moist, especially because they must be thoroughly cooked.

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Flickr/VirtualEm

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Cheese
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Cheese
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Flavor, sodium, and fat all in one tasty package. In comes on salad, in wraps, and melted on your smothered burrito. At 100 calories per ¼ cup of shredded cheese (and believe me, that’s not a lot), it adds up quickly.

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Flickr/Nate Steiner

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Heavy Cream
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Heavy Cream
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This is used extensively in many sauces, including Indian curries and Italian dishes like alfredo, vodka, carbonara, and Bolognese. The fat in the cream holds the sauces together, gives it thickness, and well, creaminess.

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Flickr/stevendepolo

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Salad Toppers
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Salad Toppers
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Particularly Cobb salad, or other “meal” salads can contain big portions of meat, bacon, cheese, and dressing that add up to more calories than you think.

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Flickr/cantwork

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Sandwich Spreads
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Sandwich Spreads
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Spreads like herbed mayo, pesto, honey mustard, and aioli add flavor and moisture to a sandwich, but are also concentrated sources of calories. While you might add a smear of these at home, just two tablespoons can add up to 200 calories.

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Flickr/thebittenword.com

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Table Munchies
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Table Munchies
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We all know what these are, the bread and olive oil, chips and salsa, crispy noodles and duck sauce. Mindless munching can provide a dinner’s worth of calories before your meal even arrives.

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Arthur Bovino

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Salt
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Salt
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Let’s face it, salt is essential for big flavor, and restaurants use lots of it. Salty taste isn’t really a good indicator of high sodium content, so your food doesn’t necessarily need to taste salty to be loaded with sodium. Some restaurant meals contain more sodium than is recommended for an entire day’s intake. Over time, this can contribute to high blood pressure and fluid imbalances.

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Flickr/RahimPackirSalbo

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Beverages
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Beverages
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Pay attention to what you are drinking. Studies show that satiation signals don’t register as well when it comes to liquid calories. Sodas, wine, and cocktails can provide between 100 calories per drink to upwards of 500 calories for a margarita.

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Flickr/RalphandJenny