By AUDREY L. BARNEY
Capital News Service
LANSING — Greenville resident Tammy Henry dines out more than twice a week and prefers sit-down restaurants to fast-food places.
“Fast-food joints are just fillers,” said Henry, owner of Beauty Works Salon in Greenville. “I prefer sit-down restaurants where I can enjoy a meal.”
Henry is a part of a booming American trend.
The restaurant industry has established itself as an integral part of the American lifestyle Ð more than 45 percent of today’s food dollar is spent away from home, and almost half of all adults are restaurant patrons on a typical day.
Holidays are a popular time for eating out Ð Easter is the sixth most popular holiday for patrons to seek meals in other places besides mama’s kitchen.
“There is no better way to spend quality time with friends and family on a day like Easter Sunday than to visit your favorite restaurant and take the stress out of planning a holiday get-together,” said Steven C. Anderson, the National Restaurant Association’s president and chief executive officer.
In Michigan, more than 13,000 restaurants serve over four million meals per day. Yet, more than ever before, patrons are trying to eat healthier meals while dining out.
The Michigan Restaurant Association is recognizing this trend and is offering its patrons tips on how to enjoy healthier meals at their favorite restaurants.
“Michigan restaurants know diners are looking for healthier menu choices,” said Rob Gifford, MRA executive director. “These tips will make those choices easier. Our members offer a variety of dining options to help dieters, low-fat aficionados and carb-avoiders enjoy dining out.”
One of the MRA healthy tips encourages patrons to stay away from the butter and oils when eating bread.
Henry, however, says that tip is hard to swallow. “I’d rather just skip the bread if I can’t have the butter,” she said.
She’s a self-proclaimed “carb-addict” who loves pastas and plenty of sauce on her food. In response to another MRA tip, Henry agrees that patrons should substitute fresh vegetables or baked potatoes for french fries.
“I personally love fresh vegetables, and fried foods are the worst,” she said.
Lori Kemperman of Greenville is a supervisor at the Winter Inn diner in downtown Greenville. She says the diner tries to offer its patrons choices such as low-fat dressings and salads.
The diner will also honor special preparation requests.
“If we are able to, we will try to prepare food the way the customer wants it prepared,” Kemperman said.
She advises those who want to stay healthy to order the baked or grilled foods. “Order baked chicken or grilled chicken and stay away from cream sauces. Also, if you want your food prepared a certain way, let the server know.”
Kemperman’s advice is supported by the MRA, which suggests that you order your sauces on the side so that you can control how much or how little you want to add to your meal. Some other suggestions by the MRA include:
– Order steamed vegetables as a side dish instead of starch.
– Stop eating when you are full.
-Share a dessert with a friend. Half the dessert equals half the calories.
The MRA also suggests that patrons not deprive themselves of the foods they love because all foods can fit into a well-balanced diet.
The list has a total of 22 suggestions and can be read in its entirety at: www.michiganrestaurant.org.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By AUDREY L. BARNEY