I have never been a big fan of restaurants, perhaps because I realized early that food prepared at home was always fresher and healthier than eating out.
However, my all-time favourite restaurant – this was during my DJ years and before I discovered the raw food diet – was a small vegetarian restaurant in London called Food For Thought; it was located on Neal Street in the Covent Garden district.
This restaurant had the odd distinction of serving low-fat vegetarian meals that included lots of vegetables. The use of oils in the preparation of the food was also miniscule, which is highly unusual for restaurants. Oily dressing could be added to salads, but it was extra and at the customer’s choice.
Food For Thought was a family business that had been around since the early 1970s and was always busy, but sadly closed in recent years, a victim of rising rents and the general gentrification that has taken place in London, as well as other major cities, which is a tragedy in my opinion. Incidentally, it has been replaced by a shoe shop, as if London didn’t have enough shoe shops already…
You never felt sick, bloated, or heavy after eating in that restaurant. I’m sure there are other restaurants in the world that serve only low fat and, above all, oil-free meals, but they are a minority. In my experience and that of many others, most restaurant food is loaded with oil and many unhealthy ingredients, whether raw, vegan, vegetarian, or what have you.
In a presentation by Dr. Michael Klaper of the Nutrition Facts website, restaurants were compared to being “ethnic-flavoured oil, sugar and salt.”
He jokingly said: “What do I feel like having tonight? Do I feel like Thai-flavoured oil, sugar and salt? Or Italian oil, sugar and salt?”
Dr. Klaper succinctly describes the sad reality of what goes on in restaurant kitchens. And I completely agree.
Why? Because of the high quantities of oil, butter, salt, sugar, and other unhealthy ingredients in restaurant food.
If you go to a sushi restaurant, for instance, you’d be surprised how much sugar is in the rice, as well as salt. Go to an Indian restaurant, and you’d be outraged at the amount of oil, let alone butter and cream, in most recipes. Sodium is ridiculously high across the board in basically every type of type of food outlet.
In fact, using salt and oil is a cheap trick as it often makes food taste better, and it’s less expensive than:
– Using fresh ingredients that taste great. I can attest that this is true, as my greengrocer supplier often tells me how restaurant owners buy the cheapest vegetables available for their restaurants.
– Using the right herbs and spices
– Combining flavours.
When we prepare food at home, we can see how much salt we add to the food. We stop at a reasonable amount.
Restaurants don’t work like that. Their food is so saturated with oil and salt that people can’t help but eat more and consume drinks along with the food.
A chef once told me that one of the secrets to making super tasty food is to boost the amount of spice and salt to the point where it’s almost too much — but not quite. When we watch programmes on TV, where chefs prepare food for restaurants, we can see how generous they are with the use of salt and olive oil.
So, next time you go to a restaurant or order takeaway, re-evaluate the real price you are paying for your meals, and also remember how you will feel the next day, after you have eaten junk food instead of real healthy food.
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