Japanese comfort food

Dining out inexpensively is tough on a low-carb diet. Pizza, pasta, burgers, and subs are out, along with many ethnic restaurants such as Thai, Chinese, Mexican, etc. Although there are strategies for eating at these restaurants we’ll talk about more, I have one go-to place when I want my relaxed comfort food – Japanese.

Nearly every meal starts out with miso soup – in our cold and rainy winters, this soup is a delight. Based on miso, tofu, and seaweed, there’s nothing in it that you can’t eat, and it’s even good for colds and flus.

No matter what Japanese restaurant you’re in, the next item will almost always be some kind of salad – greens, seaweed, or cucumber, sometimes with bits of seafood like crab or shrimp. It’s hard to go wrong with that. So far, not many carbs at all.

Moving on to the main course, you’ve got a couple of choices. Obviously, the many noodle and rice dishes available at all Asian restaurants are out. However, there are many more good choices at Japanese restaurants than most. My favorite is sashimi, which packs a lot of protein in a small and tasty package. Here is a website where you can look up the protein and carb counts for sashimi. It’s a good idea to check out portion sizes in advance. Also, this chart will most likely convince you that eating sushi is not worth it – that sushi rice is sweetened, making it even more carb-rich than regular white rice.

Another good choice is teriyaki chicken or salmon. Watch your portion sizes, as teriyaki sauce does have some sugar in it. Since it’s most of the carbs you’ll be getting in this meal, a little is OK. Try to avoid restaurants that slather on the sauce, and ask for veggies or salad on the side rather than rice. Another good seafood choice is black cod with miso sauce, which melts in your mouth and has a lovely flavor.

If you follow these guidelines, you can have a pleasant meal at a Japanese restaurant without really worrying about counting or overdoing your carbs – a rare luxury for a bargain, comfort food dinner out.

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