It’s easy to inject smart choices into the standard American catering menu, but what can you do to create healthy ethnic cuisine? These following tips from Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health will help.
For healthy ethnic cuisine, avoid high-fat baked platters such as enchiladas, which are loaded with cheese. Opt for items such as chicken or fish soft tacos with corn tortillas or offer a taco bar with fresh corn tortillas in lieu of a burrito bar. Corn tortillas are a great whole-grain choice and because they are often smaller, everyone will take less. Skip the sour cream and go light on the cheese. Offer salsa and guacamole as healthier alternatives. Order whole beans (black or pinto) instead of refried. Serve with a side salad instead of corn chips. For dessert, offer seasonal fruits.
Avoid fried dishes such as Sweet and Sour Pork or Orange Chicken and order steamed or stir-fried entrees Order steamed brown rice instead of fried rice or noodles. Include a side of steamed vegetables. Asian entrees are often heavy on the sauce, so plain steamed vegetables can compliment the richer dishes. Go for fresh vegetable spring rolls in lieu of fried egg rolls or wontons. Make sure items are prepared with no MSG and inquire if they offer any low-sodium items.
Instead of a Caesar, provide a mixed green salad with low-fat Italian or balsamic vinaigrette. Avoid baked dishes such as lasagna, eggplant parmesan or baked ziti, all of which are heavy on the cheese and high in fat. Opt for grilled chicken, fish or seafood, pasta primavera or other dishes full of fresh vegetables and lean protein. Request whole-grain pastas. Avoid dishes with creamy sauces such as Alfredo and go for tomato sauces such as marinara. Include a side of grilled vegetables or broccoli. Pastas are filling carbohydrates so there’s no need to also serve rolls or garlic bread.
Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health in Washington, DC, is available for meetings and events as well, with three private conference rooms, along with a main lounge space for larger groups of up to 350 people for a reception. Learn more here.