Meals that are mostly protein and veggies are always healthy, aren’t they? Well, not necessarily. Hibachi dining can carry some pitfalls for those who need to be careful of what they eat. Of course, Shinto’s menu is packed with healthy options, but it helps to know how to steer clear of the more indulgent food.
What’s the Big Worry?
When you’re watching your fat, calories and cholesterol, that fun hibachi meal can be a setback. Because a hibachi meal is prepared on a grill, the necessary oils or butter add up when each of the food ingredients becomes coated with it. And if you’re loading up on red meat and white rice (one of the emptier carbs), the dish becomes that much more of a cheat meal.
A few more potential problems — the sweet sauce drizzled over a typical hibachi meal contains sugar and calories, while the soy sauce contributes sodium. Also, traditional hibachi-fried rice contains egg yolks, which many people on a heart-healthy diet try to limit.
The best way to avoid over-indulging in fattier food later in the meal is to start off by feeding your appetite. Have a big glass of water or green tea when you arrive, and an appetizer of edamame for munching. The liquid helps promote a feeling of fullness, and edamame provides healthy protein and fiber.
Next, choose a healthy salad or small bowl of soup to further ramp up the nutrient count, while additionally give yourself a good base going into the main meal. Shinto’s menu includes miso soup, seaweed salad, or a house salad made with greens and light ginger dressing — all good choices.
Once it’s time for your main meal on the hibachi, a few simple strategies to keep the meal on the healthier side:
- Choose steamed white or brown rice over fried rice with egg yolks. Or order whole-grain noodles instead, if available.
- Opt for lean proteins like chicken or fish over beef, or stick to all veggies.
- Tell your hibachi chef that you prefer limited amounts of oil in your portion.
- Keep the sauces you add yourself to a light drizzle, especially soy and sweet sauce. If your restaurant provides low-sodium soy, ask for it when you order. You can skip soy altogether in favor of squeezed lemon.
Want more resources for staying healthy while not stressing out during your fun night getting together with friends? Shinto’s menu is loaded with nutritious, low-fat options, and is available online to peruse beforehand. Once you arrive, our servers are always happy to make helpful recommendations.