Diet Food: A Guide to the Best Takeout and Eat-In

I have a closet full of clothes that no longer fit and it’s almost spring break. So I could pull out my recipe file of low-calorie recipes and go to work. But I’m not going to! This year I refuse to spend hours shopping the vegetable aisle at Jewel. I refuse to spend hours in the kitchen chopping, steaming and blending.

Instead, I found the best healthy takeout and menu items that North Shore restaurants and supermarkets have to offer. And girlfriend, I am sharing my finds with you! But first, a disclaimer: When I say healthy, I actually mean diet. If you are one of those people who choose to avoid foods with artificial ingredients, more power to you. I hope to one day do the same. But for now, desperate times call for desperate measures, so a few of my listings may have artificial sweeteners.

5 Best Eat In or Takeout: Casual Restaurants

1. Georgie V’s Pancake House
Northbrook

Order: The “Eileen” or “Amy” Egg White Omelet. Georgie V’s “Eileen Omelet” is a gigantic nine-egg-white meal. No butter, no cheese, just the whites, some tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. You will eat it for days and it has only 250 calories. The “Amy Omelet” is even bigger! It comes with artichokes, a choice of more vegetables and cheese, if desired.

Girlfriend Tip: Without question Georgie V has the best egg white omelets on the North Shore but a very close runner up is Cafe Buongiorno (Winnetka).

2. Cafe Buongiorno
Winnetka

Order: Homemade Soup. There is always a choice of three or four different soups each day. My favorite: squash and split pea. All their soups are prepared from homemade stock and are made without cream, corn starch, flour, preservatives or butter.

3. Michael’s Chicago Style Red Hots
Highland Park

Order: From the salad bar. Go ahead and get a large salad; just make sure to tell them you would like to skip the bagel and bialy included in the order. For protein, add some egg whites. Michaels offers a large variety of low-fat and fat-free dressings to choose from. My favorite: low-fat cucumber or the non-fat French.

4. California Pizza Kitchen
Skokie

Order: Half order of salad with the fat-free balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. If you are too hungry to order a half, you will need to make some special requests when ordering a full salad. Consider holding the bacon, avocado, cheese or anything else you can live without, but the fat-free balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing is a must (and delicious). The sugar-free Strawberry, Raspberry, or Peach Iced Teas are very tasty as well.

5. Chop’t Up
Glenview

Order: Make your own salad (sticking with lettuce and veggies of course) chopped and tossed their fat-free red pepper Italian dressing (there are 4 other fat-free dressings to choose from). Stay away from the high-calorie and high-fat signature salads like BBQ Chicken Tortilla or the Classic Chicago Chopped Salad.

5 Best: Strictly Takeout

1. Sea Ranch
Evanston

Order: The Tuna (sashimi) Salad (ask them to go light on spicy mayo) or the Special Tuna Roll, which is tuna sashimi, spicy mayo, avocado and brown rice wrapped in soy paper. Or, order sushi with brown rice and miso soup.

Girlfriend Tip:
A number of grocery stores now stock freshly made sushi (with brown rice). Try Fresh Market or Whole Foods in Evanston, Deerfield, and Northfield. Here’s a website with the calories for different types of sushi: sushifaq.com

2. Foodstuffs
Locations throughout the North Shore

Order: Anything with a WW (Weight Watcher) designation. My favorite: Poached salmon with cauliflower purée, but my super-slim girlfriend swears by their butternut squash soup, roasted red peppers, and pico de gallo.

3. Burhop’s Seafood
Wilmette

Order: A Grilled Fish Sandwich (hold the bun). Burhops will grill the fish while you wait. If they’re not busy it can be ready in under 10 minutes. My favorite is the trout done with Cajun spices, but I have also had the tilapia and salmon—both are delicious. Another great meal option is to order their shrimp with a dab of Burhop’s fabulous cocktail sauce on the side.

4. Sunset Foods
Locations throughout the North Shore

Order: Anything with a “spa” designation.
My favorite: Canyon Ranch twice baked potatoes, cauliflower puree, warm mushroom salad, vegetarian jambalaya and edamame salad. If you don’t see your favorite item call ahead and they will prepare it for you.

5. Peapod (Food Delivery Service)

Chef Express Smart Selections (Prepared Food Section)
Order: Chicken/Vegetable Kabobs Marinated (1 kabob has 240 calories)
I also like the Chicken Breast Teriyaki (a 4.2-oz. serving has 130 calories) or the Pork Tenderloin Chipotle (a 4-oz. portion has 130 calories). So even if you eat twice as much as the designated 4.2-oz., that’s still only a 260 calories per portion.

Coming up: Best Date Diet Food and Best Diet Desserts.