I love having someone else cook for me as much as anyone. That “someone else” is almost always my spouse, a former chef who’s as comfy around a kitchen as he is at the hardware store. When that “someone” is a restaurant, however, I can’t help but feel suspicious. Afterward I’m almost always thirstier than usual, which makes me wonder how much salt was in my dish. And we’ve all heard about restaurant picks that sound healthy but in reality are loaded with fat and sugar to pump up the pleasure for our American palates.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) annually calls some of the worst offenders on the carpet with its annual “Xtreme Eating Awards,” designated for dishes with the highest calories, fat and sodium. The fourth annual awards, announced this week, include Denny’s 1,260-calorie Fried Cheese Melt (four fried mozzarella sticks and melted American cheese grilled between two slices of sourdough bread, served with fries and marinara sauce); the Cheesecake Factory’s 1,530-calorie Farmhouse Cheeseburger (and that’s without fries); and Cold Stone Creamery’s 2,000-calorie PB&C Shake (a concoction of peanut butter, chocolate ice cream and milk that equals two 16-ounce T-bone steaks plus a buttered baked potato).
Okay, I admit, I’m known at home for consuming Extra Crunchy Jif peanut butter straight from the jar, and I love the occasional Krispy Kreme doughnut. But, seriously, do we need dishes like these “Xtremes,” each of which provides more than half the average person’s recommended daily 2,000-calorie intake?
The 2010 Affordable Care Act includes a section that will require restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calorie content info for standard menu items. In the meantime, I yearn for simple eating that does not involve – as Xtreme Award-winner Applebee’s promises – anything that’s “stacked, stuffed and topped.” To that end, here’s a clean and simple recipe for your grill, even more delicious served with lightly grilled or steamed asparagus or fresh green beans.
Basic grilled salmon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Dash ground red pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh dill
- Four salmon steaks
In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper and dill. Coat the salmon steaks with the oil mixture. Cover and marinate 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Preheat your grill to medium. Grill the salmon steaks four minutes per side until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily. Serves four.
Nutritional info per serving: calories, 253; protein, 23 g; carbohydrates, 1 g; fat, 17 g; cholesterol, 67 mg; sodium, 67 mg