Mongolian Restaurants: A Healthy Choice for Dining Out
Mongolian restaurants allow you to select your own food, and then watch as it is cooked up for you. Typically, you select from a variety of raw sliced meats (such as beef, chicken, pork, or seafood) and vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, tofu, or mushrooms) and assemble your ingredients on a plate or in a large bowl. You then select one or more sauces and seasonings, and take your food to a large, open grill where a chef will stir-fry it as you watch. When the cooking is complete, your food is scooped into a bowl (often on top of rice or noodles) and handed to you.
If you’re trying to lose weight, or simply eat more healthily, Mongolian restaurants aren’t a bad option. You have far more control over your entree than you would at other eateries, and you can make your meal as healthy as you’d like it to be. Here are some tips for making sure that your next meal at a Mongolian grill is as healthy as possible.
- Don’t get carried away by the buffet. Most Mongolian restaurants are “all-you-can-eat,” so you may be tempted to keep loading up your plate, which will inevitably lead to overeating. Your health is far more important than feeling like you got your money’s worth, so try to limit your trips through the line.
- Have a healthy snack before you go. About an hour before you plan on leaving for the restaurant, have a healthy (preferably high-fiber) snack and drink a full glass of water. This will help fill you up and discourage you from going back for seconds.
- Fill your bowl with lots of vegetables. Of all the choices available to you in the buffet line, vegetables are by far the best for you. Choose a wide variety, and pile them high!
- Limit the amount of meat you eat. In fact, if you’re so inclined, you might go with tofu instead. If you can’t do without the meat, at least keep the amount of it in your bowl less than the amount of vegetables. As far as selecting a meat, you should choose seafood over chicken, choose chicken over beef, and choose beef over sausage or ham. If the meat is visibly fatty, don’t eat it.
- Use low-calorie sauces. Avoid sugary sauces, such as teriyaki sauce. Add seasonings, such as pepper, garlic, or ginger according to your taste.
- Ask the cook to go light on the oil when cooking your food. Remember that it’s a shared grill, so you’ll probably be getting some residual oil from previous diners.
- Skip the rice and noodles if you can. If you must have a starch with your meal, choose the brown (whole grain) rice.
You should end up with a single plate of food that is predominantly vegetables, with no oil and perhaps a bit of brown rice, which is by all counts a fairly healthy meal. Mongolian restaurants can be one of the healthiest dining out options available, as long as you’re willing to make the effort.