It’s beach season in Boca Raton! With May more than halfway over, we’re expecting balmy nights and sunkissed mornings. Even with a splash of rain here and there, the summer heat brings the best out of South Florida’s communitywide commitment to health & fitness. When you live in the shadow of Mizner Park, it’s easy to lose track of what we order and the relationship it has with our waistline. After all, we have dozens of incredible restaurants and classy establishments to wine & dine with your favorite people. Did you know you can decode a restaurant menu by understanding the basic implications of menu terminology? Not every menu is likely to have calories cited, especially in more fine-dining settings. With our menu decoder, learn what you need to know before you order, and watch your positive decisions transform your physical outlook!
The following terms are related to the removal or omission of certain ingredients that may be linked to allergies or lifestyle choices.
All products are completely free of animal-based ingredients, including eggs, dairy, broths, and gelatin, among the more obvious inclusions (or exclusions).
Vegetarian foods include the use of dairy and eggs but omet meats based on their immediate proximity to animal slaughter. No-kill byproducts do not count.
Gluten is the protein found in wheat and is often connected to inflammatory issues, most specifically to those suffering from gluten allergies, Crohn’s, and Celiac diseases.
A “keto” diet stringently controls carbohydrate intake to achieve fat loss through ketosis. Keto foods will almost always be high in protein, and fat, and very low in carbs.
“Paleo” is derived from “Paleolithic,” or the pre-agrarian phase of human evolution. These particular omits foods that became commonplace following the emergence of farming 10,000 years ago. The Paleo diet focuses on lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds – mostly foods that can be foraged or hunted in the wild.
The following terms are related to the agrarian practices and environmental standards shared between food producers, transporters, and consumers. Be wary that many of these terms are not legally binding and can be used very loosely.
“Sustainable” is a catch-all term that can be and has been abused but is often one of the first buzzwords associated with the enhancement of environmental practices to better improve our relationship with our food, and the earth. When you see this word, be sure to investigate further, and don’t allow it to make your purchasing decision for you without sufficient follow-up detail.
Farm to Table
This term relates to the concept of taking food directly from the farmland to the restaurant, without the use of a distributor, courier, or any form of “middleman” between the first and final steps of your food. This is a popular phrase used by upscale restaurants to denote their commitment to local and sustainable acquisition practices, and often guarantees a greater degree of freshness.
This one is fairly simple. Locally grown means… grown locally. However, with most terms & phrases in the food industry, the actual definition can be quite nebulous. Be sure (if you’re concerned) to follow up on this claim by discovering which farming partners each restaurant has, and the logistics of the food’s transport.
Normally indicated on packaged goods by a distinct symbol, “organic” means the food was grown or raised with the absence of pesticides, fertilizers, artificial soil boosters, or for the sake of animals, antibiotics, growth hormones, and fertilized feed.
The following terms are associated with the preparation and presentation of your food, and not the growth and harvest of it. These key terms can serve as a shortcut to understanding the relative health of your food without needing a full nutritional label.
Raw is an easy term to understand. The food, whatever it is, is served as is. There is no fire or heat applied to the food. Often used to denote health-conscious vegan dishes, raw also applies to sushi and any specially prepared meat dishes such as beef carpaccio or steak tartar. As always, exercise caution when consuming raw animal products.
Flaky can be used to describe the texture of certain fishes but is commonly used to denote a breadcrumb or otherwise grain-based exterior applied to the dish often using egg wash or a starch base as a congealant. For those who are carb or gluten conscious, tread carefully.
A “sear” is a rapid application of high heat to the exterior of a filet, fish, or other sea-worthy product. It is a very popular tactic for use in Asian dishes and steaks, such as tuna tataki or premium kobe beef, but is far from a regional practice, seeing use in the best steakhouses in Boca Raton.
A similar term to “flaky” but more often used to denote a heavier use of oils and greater preparation, such as deep frying. “Crispy” distinguishes itself from “flaky” in the sense that a crispy dish is often built around the crisp, whereas the flaky dish often is built to enhance the dish beneath the breadcrumb exterior.
A far more common term seen in supermarkets than in restaurants, “sugar-free” foods are a byproduct of a vociferous anti-carbohydrate lobby that took hold in the prior decades. Sugar-free foods are often the better choice for diabetics but incorporate gut-unsettling sugar alcohols and cheap seed oils as filler in its place.
Much like “sugar-free” can be a trap masquerading as a health product, the same can be said for fat-free products. Be wary of what is used in place of the naturally occurring fat found in foods with dairy and butter bases, as the margarine and other substitutes can be even worse than the nutritional hit taken by the fat inclusion.
Creamy is the soft and viscous companion to “crispy.” A food deems “creamy” is almost guaranteed to incorporate some form of high-fat dairy base like… cream. A creamy food will likely taste delicious, but pack a massively elevated fat content compared to a less than creamy variety. For a comparison, Italian dressing often incorporates 2-5 grams of fat per serving, while creamy Italian doubles, and sometimes even triples the fat content per serving.
For More Dining & Restaurant Info In Boca Raton – see below…
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