Make Healthy, Delicious Choices During Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

By Kayleigh Diaz, RD  |  11/5/2015

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, November 2-15, provides a unique opportunity to dine at many restaurants that you might not otherwise visit. Local chefs create a seasonal, prix fixe, three-course menu for a price so reasonable, you can visit even the priciest of restaurants and get the star treatment without breaking the bank.

As fun as Restaurant Week is, it’s no reason to ditch your diet. Just follow these dining out tips to enjoy your meal while maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Go for Seasonal Ingredients

The Hudson Valley produces a large dose of highly nutritious and delicious fall fruits and vegetables. Look for menu items containing winter squash, such as Hepworth Farm Organic Acorn Squash at The Artist’s Palate in Poughkeepsie. This powerhouse meal contains acorn squash, baby kale, quinoa and sweet potato.

Skip the Soup, Order the Salad

Popular soup selections during the fall tend to be hearty and creamy and can be deceivingly calorie and sodium dense. Opt for the salad option instead and ask for the dressing on the side. This is an easy way to control how much dressing goes onto your salad and can cut your calorie count quite dramatically. Salads are also a great way to incorporate seasonal produce, such as Brasserie 292’s Roasted Beet Salad.

Pay Attention to Preparation

Menu item descriptions often include tantalizing details of how the food is prepared, but can also provide a glimpse into how healthy or unhealthy the dish may be. Try to avoid foods that are fried, au gratin, scalloped, creamed or stuffed. These preparation techniques are often synonymous with excessive fat and calories. Instead, look for steamed, broiled, baked, grilled or roasted foods. Give Poughkeepsie Ice House’s Fire Grilled Salmon a try.

Avoid Added Temptations

Most dining establishments will provide complimentary snacks such as bread and butter prior to meal service. These “extras” are often unnecessary sources of additional fat, sodium and calories and provide little to no nutritional value. Skipping these freebies will not only benefit your health, but will also allow you to consume more of the meal that you want to enjoy.

Fill up on Wholesome Whole Grains

Hearty whole grains have recently become popular due to their high fiber and nutritional content. Restaurants are beginning to include them in innovative dishes, and the benefits of texture, earthy flavor and visual appeal can lend a lot to any dish. Pass on the boiled potatoes and white rice and give yourself a healthy boost of quinoa with The Mill’s Skirt Steak Quinoa Bowl. As a trendy alternative to risotto, try farro two different ways. Murray’s Pollo al Mattone at Cosimo’s Brick Oven Restaurant & Bar uses farro in place of the traditional arborio rice, and Mill House Brewing Company serves a Warm Farro Salad.

Give into Greens

Leafy green vegetables are often underrated and can provide a healthy boost to any salad, side dish or entrée. Kale has gained widespread popularity for its healthful benefits and its diversity — it can be eaten raw in salads, cooked down as a side dish or baked into crispy kale chips. If you are a raw kale lover, try Shadows on the Hudson’s Kale Salad. If you prefer your kale cooked to perfection, try Bluestone Bistro’s Smoked Pork Chop.

To enjoy these and many other healthy Hudson Valley Restaurant Week offerings, make a reservation at one of the 200 participating restaurants. Bon appétit!

Kayleigh Diaz is a registered dietitian and nutrition associate manager for Aramark at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie.

Photo Credit:Jonas Weckschmied